Mind Your Interview Q’s and A’s

Preparing for a job interview is as important as the actual job interview. Consider participating in mock interviews prior to the actual interview. Line up a partner who is frank, candid, yet supportive and positive!  For a meaningful experience, have a specific line of work chosen. Ask your partner for feedback on both what you say (content) and how you say it (non-verbal). Repeated practice helps you perform better at real interviews.


Here is a sample of common interview questions, with some tips. Write down key points to refer to during your interview practice, but don’t aim just to memorize; speaking from the heart is more convincing.


1. Tell me about yourself.

The quintessential interview question!  Make sure your answer includes a thank you to the employer for asking you to interview and a summary of how your background (training or job history) fits the job.  Your answer may also include a point of interest, like an achievement of a useful item, to raise the interviewer’s curiosity.


2. How did you choose this line of work?

This question is more than casual conversation. It’s an opportunity. An employer wants to gauge your seriousness about the job, and whether this job and you are a good fit.


3. What is your understanding of this job?

The employer wants to know your understanding of the job description. Do you understand what the employer wants accomplished? Beyond checking your comprehension of the job, the employer will judge the thought and effort you put into preparing for the interview.


4. What strengths would you bring to this job?

This question is your chance to state clearly how your skills match the employer’s needs. To be most effective, do an inventory of your knowledge, skills and talents; research the employer’s needs and problems; and identify where they intersect.


5. What are your weaknesses?

Employers want to know if you recognize that you can improve and develop your skills. Don’t volunteer a topic that could raise alarm or concern; instead talk about your strategies to learn and grow. Avoid negative terms; you might say “challenge” instead of “weakness,” for instance.


6. Tell me about a time when you …solved a problem/made a difference/made a mistake/took a risk?

This question is a situational, or behavioral, interview question. Employers judge your planning, thought process, and working style. Write down ahead of time a few key words as a guide to describe how you took action and benefitted a past employer. This might include how you increased profits, saved money, improved efficiency, or achieved other important goals


7. Do you have any questions for me?

Bring meaningful questions. Employers judge your attitude and seriousness as a job candidate by the significance and thought behind your questions.


Final tip: don’t forget to smile!


We’re interested in learning from you! What are the interview questions that you prepare for? 


Paul Sears is an employment specialist at the Minneapolis WorkForce Center.


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