10 Critical Interview Questions to Prepare For

Ace an interview by preparing answers for critical questions.
Ace an interview by preparing answers for critical questions. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

An interview is the chance to put your best foot forward and show a potential employer what you have to offer. In addition to arriving on time, dressing for success and presenting a concise, updated resume, you should also plan answers to potential questions. Think ahead about your answers to these critical questions that may very well be asked.

Why Would You Like to Work at this Company?

Employers want to know why you chose them and what you know about the company. Prior to the interview, research the company and gather as much information as possible. Tell the interviewer what things intrigue you about the company and why you think you would be a good fit.

What Is Your Applicable Experience?

Even though you are presenting a resume, interviewers want to hear about your experience in your own words. Resumes allow for an overview of your skills, but this is the opportunity to give specific examples of work-related experience that fits the job description.

How Do You Perform as a Team Player?

This may seem like an obvious question, but this is the opportunity to provide specific examples of how and when you contributed to a team effort. You may also want to add that although you work well in a team, you can also accomplish tasks on your own if the job calls for it.

What Is Your Strongest Quality That You'll Bring to this Job?

Be sure the answer is posed in a positive frame. In other words, stating that you are always punctual sounds better than saying you are never late. Think about intangible assets such as working well under pressure, ability to multi-task and ability to quickly learn new tasks.

Tell Me About Your Weaknesses

No one is perfect, so be prepared to admit you have a flaw. Follow it up with actions you are taking to overcome it. For example, if you lack experience in a particular area, do you plan to take a class or go back to school on your own time to learn more about it?

Why Are You Leaving Your Present Job?

Rule number one, never speak negatively about a past employer or boss. Find a positive reason for an explanation, such as you wanted more of a challenge, you had gone as high up in the company as possible or you feel your talents and strengths could be better utilized in a new environment. If you were terminated, own up to it and explain that there were managerial differences between you and the organization.

Are You Also Applying at Other Organizations?

Be honest in your answer, but don't go into details about the other positions. Explain why you believe you are a better fit at this company over the others. State reasons why your preference is to work for this company.

What Salary Are You Expecting?

You should try not to discuss salary during a first interview. State that it is negotiable and should you be offered a position, you are sure you can come to agreement. If the interviewer presses further, politely ask what the range is for that position and let him know your requirements are within that range.

Tell Me a Little About Yourself

This may be an initial question during the interview or it may come near the end. Have a succinct overview ready, but don't give a lot of personal details. Keep the facts work-related if possible.

What Questions Do You Have about this Organization or the Job?

You should always have a few pertinent questions for the interviewer. Choose questions that are related to the position, such as the type of projects you would work on if hired. Stay away from questions regarding salary and benefits. Those are better asked in a follow-up interview or after an offer of employment has been made.

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