19 Killer Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

What+happens+during+a+job+interview_2fe868_3702785Interviews can be stressful, and sometimes it’s hard to come up with the right answer to a question. Here are 19 killer questions and some tips on how to craft a beautiful answer to land the job!

  1. Tell me about yourself. Your answer to this question should sum up why you are right for the job. Use your elevator pitch, but don’t regurgitate your resume. Keep it short and simple. What do you want the interviewer to know about you most? Listing one or two accomplishments or a description of your personality/work style and how they position you for this job will suffice.
  2. What are 2 – 3 weaknesses you need to improve? Gauge your answer with honesty and self-awareness. Don’t use clichés (ie. I’m too much of a perfectionist) and don’t tell them you don’t have any. Find something you struggle with that isn’t a red flag and make sure you end your answer with explaining how you’re attempting to improve.
  3. How would you define success? Your interviewer is asking what your personal definition of success is. Research the company’s mission and goals to see if they align your personal answer.
  4. Describe an ideal work environment. Research comes in handy here. Research what it’s like to work at this company—most company websites have a company culture page, but if not try looking for employees on LinkedIn and conduct an informational interview to learn more. You answer should be in line with the type of work environment and culture the company has.
  5. What is your greatest achievement and why? Is it your college diploma? An award? What about a project that you completed and are proud of? Use the STAR Method to give context and results to be effective in telling whatever story you choose.
  6. What are your salary expectations? Show you’ve done your research and know your worth. Not sure where to find salary information for your industry? Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics or O*Net.
  7. Why do you want to work here? Your interviewer wants to know that you are passionate about this job and company. Identify why you’re a great fit for the position and follow with why you love the company.
  8. Why should I hire you? Your answer needs to cover four things: that you can do the job, deliver great results, fit in with the company culture, and that you’d be a better hire than the other candidates. What makes you stand out? Bring it up (or bring it up again) here.
  9. What can you offer us that someone else can not? Similar to the above question, what makes you stand out? And don’t say you’re more hard working or passionate than the other candidates. Bring up accomplishments and success stories that can provide hard evidence of what you’ve done and can do. Don’t forget to use the STAR Method.
  10. What is your dream job? Do you have realistic expectations for your career? And do you have ambition? The interviewer wants to see if this job is really in line with your long-term career goals. Talk about your goals and how this position will get you closer to them.
  11. Name three adjectives that describe you. The interviewer wants to get to know you and see whether you have the right personality and traits to fit the position and culture. Don’t cop-out by saying generic, overused buzzwords like “innovative,” “creative,” and “passionate.” If those things are the best words to describe you, get a thesaurus. Look up unique ways to communicate those same messages.
  12. Describe the situations in which you are most comfortable as a leader. Make sure you don’t describe something completely opposite of the company’s culture and use the STAR Method to back up what you say. How do you find out what situations you could face in the company? Informational interviews with employees you find on LinkedIn can be key in helping you prepare for this question.
  13. Tell me about a time when your first solution did not resolve an issue. What did you do? Use the STAR Method to illustrate your story. Your interviewer is trying to see how you have behaved in a difficult situation in the past and how you were able to solve the problem so they can understand how you would navigate a future challenge.
  14. Who has been instrumental in helping you develop your performance over the last few years? In what way? As a student, or young professional, this should be an easy question to answer. Who has helped you develop your career? Your interviewer probably wants to hear how you have developed over the past few years. If those years didn’t include internships or jobs demonstrate your adaptability and growth in schoolwork and team projects.
  15. Describe your best/worst boss. Be careful here. Don’t bash any previous employers. These could even be hypothetical. Your interviewer is trying to see if you’re a good fit for the company. Know the management style of the company (how do you find out? Informational interviews with current employees in similar roles. Reach out on LinkedIn. Most people are happy to chat, especially about themselves) and align your best boss description in line with their style/culture. Be truthful, but your worst boss description should definitely not sound like a description of the company you’re interviewing with.
  16. In a job, what interests you the most/least? Be honest. What interests you? Make sure to frame the things you’re “least” interested in as not being things you aren’t interested in. Maybe explain you understand this task is a part of the process and you are happy to complete it, but it simply isn’t as interesting as ____.
  17. Where do you see yourself in three years? Be honest about your career goals. Show you have realistic goals, ambition, and that this position will help you reach those goals. It’s okay to say you aren’t quite sure what the future olds, but that you see this position as playing an important role in helping you make those decisions.
  18. How many tennis balls can you fit in a limousine? Variations of questions like this are framed to test your creativity and critical thinking skills. The interviewer does not (probably) have the correct answer and most likely isn’t looking for the correct answer. What he or she is looking for is to see how you think on your feet.
  19. What questions do you have for me? Prepare a few less-common interview questions before the interview because a lot of times most of your questions will be answered during the interview itself. Consider asking about your interviewer’s career path, a regular day in the office, how the interview thinks you could impact the company, etc.

Have there been other interview questions that stumped you? Post them in the comments and we’ll talk about how to handle them in the future.

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2 responses to “19 Killer Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

  1. Pingback: 32 Common Interview Questions | Purdue CCO Blog·

  2. Pingback: What And When To Eat Before An Interview | Purdue CCO Blog·

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