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Common Interview Questions
Tell me about yourself?
This is often the first question a recruiter/interviewer will ask. While this is an open-ended question, your focus should be in providing a summary of who you are and what makes you the best candidate for the position. Summarize your education, experience, accomplishments, and responsibilities in relation to the job you are interviewing for. Avoid personal information…keep it professional and career-focused.
- Ex: I am a recent graduate from the University of North Dakota where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. I recently completed my internship/co-op experience at XYZ Company where I was responsible for…
Why are you interested in this position/company?
Imagine you are the interviewer and you have an applicant who isn’t too sure what the company does vs. an applicant who has a firm knowledge of the company/position and demonstrates that knowledge by relating the company’s goals with their career objectives. Which applicant would you want to get to know more? Interviewers want to know why you are interested in their specific position and company. Setting yourself apart from the competition by doing research and gaining a genuine interest in the company/position will strengthen the impression you leave.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Don’t bash yourself; instead think of them as areas of improvement and a verbal display of your growth and learning. Respond with the improvements first and “end on a high note” with your strengths. When describing your weaknesses, follow-up with how you have worked or are working to overcome/improve. The combination of your strengths and improvements should highlight the attributes you have acquired that make you the best candidate for the job. Giving real-world examples turns abilities into proven abilities.
How has your experience prepared you for this position?
Describe how your educational experiences have prepared you for the position as well as how other experiences have prepared you in terms of strengthening your transferrable skills. Internships/co-ops, class projects, coursework, volunteer experiences, memberships, and other activities all play a role in how you have developed into the professional candidate you are today.
- Ex: Throughout my college years, I have been able to excel in class, sports, and extracurricular activities due to my strong ability to prioritize and multi-task effectively. My involvement in College Scientists club developed my interpersonal skills and strengthened my communication skills through group activities and presentations. My recent internship/co-op experience gave me hands-on experience in the area of “x” and I found I was successful in applying my classroom studies in a real-world situation.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
The interviewer is looking to find out more about your career direction, goals, drive, and how long you might stay with the company. They are interested in knowing if you have career plans and how they align with the position you are interviewing for. Describing career goals that have no connection to the position/company interviewing you will lessen your chances of landing the position. Your response should be genuine and realistic so the importance of researching the company and how it relates to YOU is so important.
What type of people do you work well with?
It is important to give an example of when you successfully worked with a diverse group of people with different backgrounds. Involvement in class projects, sports, and volunteer positions would display an ability to collaborate and work on a team with a common goal.
Do you have anything else you would like to add?
Certainly! This is your last opportunity to summarize why you are a great fit and why you want to work for this company. Provide a brief “wrap up” or review of the education, experience, skills and strengths you bring and how they relate to contributing to their ongoing success. If you feel you weren’t able to highlight a success or area you wanted to discuss, this is your time to do so.
Do you have any questions for me/us?
Yes! Questions show interest but it also gives you the opportunity to ask questions necessary to make a decision. You don’t want to base a career decision on “having a good idea” of how the company or position is a good fit for you…gather the information you need to confirm or re-confirm your career choice.
- How would you describe a typical day in this position?
- How would you describe the company culture/work environment?
- What is your favorite thing about working here?
- What has been your career path here?
- If applicable, ask for their business cards so you have their contact information for following up in the future
It is illegal for employers to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability or genetic information. Questions that would reveal information specific to these areas are inappropriate and illegal. For more information, go to www.eeoc.gov.
- Examples of illegal questions: Do you have children? Are you married or have a boy/girlfriend? What is your ethnic background? Do you have a disability? How old are you? Have you ever been arrested? What religion are you? Is this your maiden name? Were you honorably discharged from the military?