How to nail your job interview

A job interview has to be one of the most stressful situations that you’ll ever face. To be successful you have to prepare for tough interview questions and learn how to avoid common interview mistakes. Here are a few ideas and resources to help you nail the interview and get that job.

How you do not want to be remembered by at your next job interview. (Credit: Thinkstock)

How you do not want to be remembered by at your next job interview. (Credit: Thinkstock)

Common interview questions

Do a few interviews and it becomes clear that those who do the interviewing often ask similar questions. It’s a good idea to find out what the common interview questions are and prepare for them.

In a January 11, 2013, article for, “How To Ace The 50 Most Common Interview Questions,” Jacquelyn Smith listed common interview questions and provided advice on how to deal with them.

The list of common questions included:

  • Why are you looking for a new job?
  • What motivates you?
  • What are your career goals?

Smith’s advice in dealing with the interview started with learning all you can about the company and preparing your own list of questions to ask the interviewer. You can start with a search on Google to find out about the company’s mission, vision and key projects. Visit their Facebook page and read their Twitter feeds to learn more about the organization and their values.

Be thinking about how you can fit into the organization and contribute to its goals. Keep in mind that hiring a new employee isn’t really about you. It’s about them and how you can help them to be more successful.

Tell me about yourself interview question

Beware of this common interview question and don’t say too much. The interviewer isn’t interested in your life story. There are certain questions that they cannot ask legally. If you’re not careful, you may slip in some information that is better left unsaid.

Scott Ginsberg tackled “10 Good Ways to ‘Tell Me About Yourself,’” for

Ginsberg offered several clever and original ways to respond including:

  • “My personal philosophy is….” and then complete the sentence in a way that shows you’re a thinker rather than just an employee.
  • “My passion is…” Discuss a job-related passion and your enthusiasm is bound to come through.

According to Ginsberg, “Keep in mind that these examples are just the opener. The secret is thinking how you will follow up each answer with relevant, interesting and concise explanations that make the already bored interviewer look up from his stale coffee and think, ‘Wow! That’s the best answer I’ve heard all day!’”

Types of interview questions

Interview questions tend to fall into certain categories. A quick look at these question types was presented by Arnie Fertig in his February 12, 2013, article for, “4 Types of Questions to Expect at a Job Interview.”

The four types of questions included:

  • Straightforward questions: Job requirements and how you meet those requirements
  • Behavioral questions: How did you deal with certain situations in the past
  • Situational questions: How would you deal with a certain situation if it happened
  • Brainteasers or skill tests: Aimed at discovering your skills level

Regarding the latter, Fertig advised, “Do the best you can, and remember sometimes you do in fact need to measure up to a specifically defined standard. In other instances, what is really being tested is the level of creativity, speed, or something else about the way in which you go about solving the problem rather than the solution itself.”

101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions

For the ultimate guide to fielding interview questions, be sure to check out the book, “101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions, 6th Edition,” by Ron Fry. This no-nonsense guide will prepare you to leverage the trickiest questions to your advantage. You’ll learn how to deal gracefully with complicated case interviews, various personality types, and even potentially illegal questions  all while avoiding common mistakes.

Fry’s book is the result of interviewing thousands of job candidates. The book includes worksheets to help you organize your thoughts and prepare your answers to various types of interview questions.

Of the book Fry said, “Is this the ultimate crib sheet? Sort of. But I hope you’ll take it a step further and use these questions as the basis for some thoughtful self-exploration. You’ll need to be prepared to think for yourself—on your feet, not by the seat of your pants.”

What’s the toughest question you’ve ever been asked in a job interview and how did you deal with it? Tell us in the comments.

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