You may have spent hours preparing for your interview, but one thing you’ll never know is the type of questions you’ll be asked. Never fear, you can still develop a plan to tackle even the most challenging interview topics. Here’s a list of some of the questions you might be asked – plus a few suggested topics you could ask your interviewer.

1. tell me about yourself. 

Usually the first and most commonly asked question. This is your opening to sell brand you. Study the job description and list a couple of strong skills that would make you an ideal candidate for the job. 

2. why did you leave your last position?  

A simple answer works best here. ”My organization went through a restructuring and I took the opportunity to take my career in a different direction.” 

3. why do you want to work here? 

Use your research to list a few key bullet points on why you were attracted to this company. Focus on how you thought it would be a good fit for both of you.

4. what are your salary requirements? 

This is a tricky question and the best strategy is to remain noncommittal. For example, "Let's discuss the details of the job first, so I can understand exactly what you need." If the interviewer insists on a number, suggest a range based on your background research.

5. how do you handle tight deadlines? 

Explain how you use planning and time management to remain calm and focused in making a deadline with quality work. Cite a specific job-related example you handled calmly and efficiently.

6. what new skills have you learned in the past year? 

Let your interviewer know that you are constantly evolving. You are an active member in the local professional clubs. You take advantage of cross training and learning new skills on your own time. Include improvement activities related to the job, such as classes, webinars and networking.

7. what is your greatest strength?

This is a chance to toot your own horn about how you would be a great addition to the team. After reading the job description, think about all your strengths and identify the one that will stand out the most. Refer to examples that exhibit your best skills. If you are a great team player and this job requires a lot of collaboration, give specific times when you worked to accomplish a goal in a team environment.

8. what is your greatest weakness?

This is a character question designed to show the hiring manager your level of self-awareness. Don’t give cliché answers like, “I’m a perfectionist” or “I’m accused of working too hard.” That will open you up to additional questions, like “How do you define being a perfectionist or how much work is too much?” Instead, study the job description and note something more job-related. If you are horrible at accounting and that’s not a requirement of the job, use that as your weakness.

9. what qualities do you look for in a manager? 

Be positive and keep it simple. Attributes like fairness, a sense of loyalty, willingness to challenge you professionally and someone who holds high standards are all good answers.

10. tell me about a time you did not meet your manager's expectations

This is another question where you want to be honest but turn the answer into a positive. For example, you missed a deadline but learned from that mistake and implemented a new strategy that kept you from ever missing a deadline again.

questions to ask your interviewer

Have a list of questions and mentally check off any that are answered as the interview unfolds. Only ask questions that haven’t already been covered. Ask insightful questions that demonstrate you did your research and can see yourself in the role.

about the job itself:

  • What would a typical day be like? 
  • What are some of the challenges of doing this job well?
  • What are some examples of great results accomplished by a person in this job?
  • Is this a newly created position or would I be replacing someone? 
  • How would you describe the ideal candidate for this position?

forward thinking questions:

  • What opportunities exist for advancement and long-term career growth?
  • If offered this role, how can I make my manager's job easier?
  • Do you have any concerns about my moving forward in this process?
  • How soon will a decision be made for filling this position? What are the next steps?
  • When is a good time to follow up with you?

ace that interview!

You now have answers to some typical interview questions and have a good list of pertinent questions to ask the hiring manager. After you review and feel comfortable, ask a friend to help conduct some mock interviews. Try answering in different ways and have your friend take on different hiring manager personas. With a little bit a practice, you’ll be ready to ace that interview! 

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