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5 Key Interview Questions You Should Prepare to Answer

Job interview.

Much like an operation in the military, the best way to handle a job interview is with research, analysis, and strategy. While there are a few different components to an interview, it's imperative that you prep for the questions themselves above all else. No two interviews are exactly the same, each hiring manager has their own style, but there are a few common key questions that you should try to think about well in advance of the interview itself. The Daily Journal has collected five of these questions, and they're a little trickier to answer than you might think. Don't leave your success to chance, study the questions and prepare for them accordingly.

1. Tell me about yourself.

This question can trip up anyone who isn't prepared. It's a disarming thing to say: tell me about yourself. It suggests that the interviewer is interested in everything about you from what you did that morning to what you think about the latest political controversy. In the context of an interview, this question is not a bid to divulge personal details, so don't treat it like one. Keep in mind that your goal for the interview is to stay positive and show off your professional experience. Practice a short, sweet, and simple answer that provides a snapshot of who you are as a professional and what you can offer the company.

2. What are your strengths, why should we hire you?

If you can't tell an interviewer what your professional strengths are or make the case for them to hire you, don't expect a callback. It's important to remain confident and back that attitude up with a solid explanation of why you'll be an asset to the company. Write down all your positive attributes including whether you're pleasant to work with or you're a Python guru. Then, look at the job posting and compare each desired trait to what you wrote down. Focus on the elements that match and craft your response.

3. What is your greatest weakness and how did you overcome it?

Some say you should answer this question by talking about a weakness that's really a strength, but that isn't always the best strategy. Hiring managers aren't easily fooled by lines like, "I'm a perfectionist," or, "I'm too critical of my work." These types of responses are generic and offer no real insight into you as a professional. One of the best ways to answer this question is by talking about a legitimate weakness, one that doesn't appear to impair your ability to do the job, and then talk about how you overcame it. Learning a skill that you didn't have early in your career, for example, addresses a genuine issue and shows off how you handled it.

4. How did you hear about our company? What do you know about us? Why do you want to work here?

This question is a no brainer to answer: type the company's name into your search engine of choice and start digging. Answering this question with a generic response will seriously hurt your chances. Discover what the company stands for, their history, and most importantly, their products. Better yet, research the company's place in their industry. Are they a major player, how do they stack up to the competition, and what are some of their accomplishments? Keep in mind recent news involving the company if you can.

5. What would your previous employer say about you?

No matter what terms you left your previous company on, keep your answer simple and stick to your strengths. Don't ramble, don't come up with an elaborate pitch, just have a few specific points in mind about how well you did at your last job. Try to be specific about your accomplishments because incorporating job-specific information highlights your qualities as a professional, not a job applicant.

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