Is there anything more fun than preparing for a job interview? A dental visit…High School Algebra? All jokes aside, we know interview prep is dreaded by most, but it doesn’t have to be. So how do you ditch the fear and ace the conversation? It all comes down to the interview questions. If you go into a job interview and you are only prepared to recite what is on your resume, you are already 5 steps behind. Hiring managers want to know why they should hire you. While we cannot guess every out of the box question you may be asked, we can share some of the more likely queries. Read below for the questions you should know and the answers you should have for your next job interview.

Interview questions they may ask you…

Why should we hire you?

The question no interview is without. While it may seem like an easy one to answer, this is also the easiest to flub. The biggest mistake interviewees make when they are asked this most poignant Q is to be vague in their response. Instead of sharing your go-to personality traits, think about what else you bring to the table. If you’re a hard-worker, 9 out 10, the next candidate will say the same exact thing. So what makes you a unique fit? Out of however many others may be vying for this role, what is it from your experience or passion for this industry that will set you apart from everyone else? That is your answer.

Tell me about a conflict you faced at work and how you dealt with it.

When an interviewer asks you about any previous conflict you may have experienced in a prior role, this is NOT a grievance airing session. It is one of the most common trick questions that candidates are asked because it comes down to how you answer it. A hiring manager wants to know how you handle conflict, not just in action but in words. Focus on a situation that involved problem-solving and the positive actions and knowledge you were able to take from the situation.

What are your salary requirements?

In 2018 a new California law was enacted that prohibits employers from asking applicants about their salary history. What does this mean for you? Well first, do not say that to a hiring manager. Instead, rephrase your response in knowing that you are not required to disclose what you are currently making. You can respond by simply saying, “I prefer not to disclose my current salary, but my range is between _____ and blank”. Or you can turn your answer to a demonstration of your knowledge in industry insight. Answering with a statement like:  “I am comfortable with the industry standard for this role and open to negotiation” shows you are prepared and open to finding common ground. 

Why are you looking for a new job?

This is another tricky question where the answer should be focused on a positive response. Whether you are still with your current employer or have recently left a role, your reason for leaving should not be negative. Even if it is, you should not be sharing that. The best way to respond to this question is to focus on growth and the need to evolve beyond where you currently are. If it has been a short amount of time between your current role and your career quest, sometimes the shoe does not quite fit and that’s ok. You can answer the question of timing and your job search by saying that it was time to start a new chapter and this role is the right next step for you. 

Why was there a gap in your employment between [insert date] and [insert date]?

It is entirely understandable, especially at this time that some applicants may  have an extended gap between roles. Hiring managers understand this as well. If you have a gap between employment, think about how you spent the time during that gap. While one opportunity came to a close, perhaps you took the time between roles to take an online course, volunteer or read a new book. Focus on what positive accomplishments you achieved during the time between employment and share that.

What are your career goals?

This question is all about growth. You are not necessarily saying that you see yourself in an executive position at the company you are currently applying to work at. Instead, use your words to imply how you hope to evolve within a role focused on your core interests and skills. The hiring manager will take your response as someone who is committed to personal development and realistic in their ambitions.

Do you have any questions?

Trick question #3! A Hiring Manager is likely to ask you if you have any questions for them. While it may seem ok to say that you have none, this is one major overlooked mistake. When you end an interview without any questions for the interviewer, it can appear that you do not have much interest in the company or role. This does not mean that the tables have turned and you spend the next hour asking rapid-fire questions. Instead, prepare one to two questions (we’ve suggested a few below) based on your prepared knowledge of the company or role.

Questions you may ask them…

  • Do you need me to clarify or elaborate on anything I said or that you read on my resume?
  • What would you be looking for in an ideal candidate?
  • Who do you consider your major competitors? How are you better?
  • What do you like most about working with this company?
  • Are there some of the challenges one might experience in this role?
  • Can you share what you consider to be factors of success in this role or with this company?
  • What would be your timeline for the next step regarding this role?

When you head to your next interview, consider these suggested questions so that you feel comfortable and prepared. At the end of the day, you are in charge of your own success. When you make the effort to prepare for an opportunity, your possibilities will be endless.