Strategic answers to 4 common job interview questions

Apr 20, 2015 | Article

Use these tips while practicing your interview answers to nail your next meeting with a potential employer.

There are certain questions that you'll encounter in job interviews across all industries. The reason human resource professionals are so fond of these inquiries is that they reveal a lot about a candidate with just a few words.

The answers to the following questions will vary for each person, but there are certain strategies for approaching responses that will benefit all job seekers. Use these tips while practicing your interview answers to nail your next meeting with a potential employer.

"This question can trip you up, so prepare for it."

1. Tell me about yourself
It's a simple request, but it can trip up even the most experienced job seekers. Do they want to know about your personality or professionalism? Should you answer with one sentence or a rehearsed monologue?

If you want to impress your interviewer, this question gives you the opportunity to get the conversation off to a good start. Keep your response to two or three minutes, and speak predominantly about your professional experiences. Ideally, you should be giving a brief synopsis of who you are as a professional and why you're perfect for the position. That said, don't just recite your resume or cover letter. Your answer should provide details about your experiences and how they're pertinent to the position at hand.

2. What are your strengths?
This one is easy, right? You're organized, a team player and good at communicating. While these are all admirable traits, they would probably make for a lackluster answer. This is your chance to boast about yourself, so pick relevant characteristics that really define you and would make you a star employee in the position. Don't just list your attributes - follow up with specific examples of times when you've applied your skills in professional settings.

Prepare to explain your professional strengths and weaknesses.

3. What are your weaknesses?
No one is perfect, so it's ill-advised to tell an employer that you don't have any weaknesses. However, this is a tricky question to answer. After all, you don't want to paint yourself in a negative light. The key to nailing this question is to address the unspoken follow-up: What are you doing to overcome your shortcomings?

Be honest about something you struggle with, whether it's organization, time management or public speaking. Then, address the steps you've taken to improve in this problem area, like taking public speaking classes, using a day planner or implementing a strict paper filing system.

4. Why are you the best person for this position?
This question usually comes toward the end of an interview, so you've probably already established your major skills and professional strengths. The interviewer wants to know what makes you different from all the other candidates he or she is meeting with, so give a compelling answer. Some good options are to talk about your passion for the job, company or industry, how you'll achieve results, or how your other experiences have prepared you for this type of position.

With these tricks in your arsenal, you'll be ready for these tough questions when they come your way. Remember to always be honest with your answers and confident that you really are the best candidate for the job.

This content brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.

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