Five Interview Questions

Every job interview is different. There are certainly many common threads, and common preparations you need to make as an interviewee. However, the true substance of the discussion will always depend on the two (or more) persons interacting. With that said, there are five common questions that you should always be prepared to answer genuinely and effectively. They may not be worded in precisely the same fashion, but rest assured that these five questions will eventually come up during the course of nearly any job interview.

Bear in mind that when formulating your responses to this inquiries, it’s important not to come off as though you rehearsed or memorized answers in advance. It’s sensible to give forethought to the types of questions you’re sure to receive, but don’t go over the top in developing your replies in advance. Interviewers want to know that the information you provide is honest and truthful, not only that you’re capable of producing a “correct” response.

The Questions and What They Really Mean

The five most common interview questions will vary not only in their wording, but also their placement in the context of the interview. These are more good reasons not to over-prepare; listen actively to what’s asked by your interviewer and give a thoughtful response for best results. The questions you are most likely to hear:

  • What interests you about this job?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • Why do you believe you’re qualified to fill this position?

    • How do you differ from other applicants?
    • What type of compensation are you seeking?

    Each question is fairly straightforward on the surface, but you’ll need to delve a little deeper in order to really benefit from your responses. For example, when asked what interests you about a job, the question actually has more to do with the company itself. The interviewer knows you’re probably interested in a job which meets your skills and general market value—but what is it about the company that intrigues you? Having little to say suggests you know little about the organization.

    By contrast, if you can speak to aspects of the company’s culture, size, or general priorities, you’ve shown genuine interest. An employee who is vested in the company from the start is usually much more attractive to a hiring manager.

    The remaining questions can be similarly broken down:

  • When asked to describe yourself, you’re being asked to consider your traits and talents as a worker. Think along the lines of how you and your personality would fit in with the company you’re interviewing for.

  • In answering why you’re qualified for a position, don’t just talk about relevant skills—give a bit of historical evidence. Talk about accomplishments from your past positions to validate your claims.

  • To describe how you differ from other applicants, emphasize what sets you apart. Discuss what’s unique about your work performance and how you go above and beyond to make yourself more valuable to an organization.

  • It’s always best to answer compensation questions vaguely. Your goal should be to assure your interviewer that your expected salary will fall within the framework of the company’s realistic abilities. Don’t start bargaining before job offers are made.

    Closing Thoughts

    Your overall goal in a job interview is to make a positive impression and show that you’re a quality candidate not just for the specific position, but a good fit for the company in general. By providing fluid, thoughtful answers to these common interview questions, you’ll display preparedness, professionalism, and give the appearance that you’re genuinely committed to securing the job offer.

    Interviewing is like any other skill—it requires practice and time to develop. Taking time to get a better feel for the questions you’re likely to field will allow you to enter into the discussion with greater confidence, giving you a better chance at a positive outcome. Again, don’t let yourself become robotic in your responses; coming across as natural and honest is crucial to your success.

    Remember, just as each interview is different, so is each individual that you speak with. Some may have a better sense of humor than others; some may be all business. The substance of your answers will stay consistent, but the tone and delivery of your message is important as well. Try to match your energy to the person conducting the interview so that your responses have the greatest possible impact.

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