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Common interview questions and how to answer them successfully

Posted at 9:14 AM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2021-10-27 08:57:29-04

NATIONAL — During this pandemic, millions of Americans now find themselves looking for work. If you have an upcoming interview, we want to give you a few guidelines.

Here are a few questions you'll likely be asked and how to navigate them.

What’s your greatest strength?

This question provides you an opportunity to share a success story. Avoid a plain answer like “organization” or “time management”. Instead, focus on sharing a specific instance with a measurable result that exemplifies your strength.

“Last May, my company was planning a new project and I noticed a few errors. The corrections I noticed in the proposal saved the company $12,000. As a result, I was named Assistant Project Manager. My attention to detail has proven to be an asset in my prior roles and will be of great use in this position.”

What’s your greatest weakness?

Many interviewees find this question intimidating. However, this is an opportunity to show you can self-identify your improvement areas and take action. Be sure to focus on the corrective actions you’ve taken and not only the problem.

“In June 2019, I joined the Analytics team in my division. I noticed I was not as advanced as my teammates in Microsoft Excel. I signed up for an Excel bootcamp twice a week. After two months in the course, I earned a certificate as an Advanced Excel User. Now, I teach others on the Analytics team new functions in Excel.”

Tell me about a time when....

In order to gauge your personality and how well you work with others, employers will ask behavioral questions.

These include:

“Tell me about a time when you planned an event”

“Tell me about a time when you failed and what you learned from it”

“Tell me about a time when you had a disagreement with a manager and how you handled it”

The best way to answer these questions is using the STAR format.

S(Situation): Explain the situation you were dealing with. Give the interviewer context for your actions.

My company asked me to plan the 50th anniversary party for 325 employees. It was my first time planning an event for a large number of guests.

T (Task): Explain the challenge that you faced.

It was my job to research and track a reasonable budget, hire a caterer and select the best venue based on price, capacity and location.

A (Action): Explain how you tackled the challenge and the methods you employed.

In order to decide and track a budget, I created a custom formula and macro in Excel. I called the top rated caterers in my area and negotiated a fair price. Additionally, I toured three event spaces and chose one that met our needs in a 15 mile radius of the city.

R (Response): This is where you hone in on the success story. Use numbers and data if you can.

The day of the party, I used a spreadsheet and call list to stay organized. The event was successful! I saved the company $8,000. I organized the holiday party for the next two years.

Do you have any questions for me?

This is the time to determine if the company is the right fit for you. Also, you should show the interviewer you have done research on the company. However, be careful not to stump your interviewer with overly specific questions.

“I saw that XYZ Company holds yearly service trips, I thought that was awesome. Have you been on any?”

“What have others done in this role to blow you away?”

“What do you think is the one common characteristic of all XYZ Company employees?”

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