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Exceptional Answers for Common Interview Questions

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Interviews can be nerve wracking; especially if you haven’t adequately prepared. Preparing for an interview is challenging because the questions will vary depending upon the position and the interviewer.

However, there are a few questions that are asked almost every time.
Here are the 5 most common interview questions and recommended answers that hiring professionals are likely looking for.

1. “Tell me about yourself.” This seems like a simple question, but unless you practice your answer you may end up providing too much or too little information. The answer to this question should be a synopsis about yourself, but one that is specifically related to the job you are interviewing for. Who you are, what your strengths are and how the company can benefit from that information. Be specific; don’t give them a laundry list of your skills and abilities. Give a quantification of your accomplishments (specifically how much money did you make/save the company) if at all possible.

Recommended Answer: “I am a results-oriented sales manager with 10 years of progressive retail experience. My sales and management contributions to luxury boutiques and high end department stores have resulted in a 35% increase in sales for the past 3 years and a measurable boost in employee retention and morale in my department.

2. "Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?" Talk about your long-term career goals; keep it professional and try to avoid personal goals. Make sure whatever goals you discuss are related to the position you are interviewing for. Present a five or ten year plan that marries your desire to be an entrepreneur with the long-term vision of the company.

Recommended answer: “In five years I see myself in a management role within the financial services industry; ideally working for a company that has the track record of steady growth like this one has. I am a dedicated employee and hope to further both my career and my company via my commitment and enthusiasm.

3. "What are your weaknesses?" When you're asked about your weaknesses, try to turn a negative into a positive. Identify areas where you can improve and figure out how they can be assets to a future employer.

Recommended answer: “I can be too much of a perfectionist in my work. Sometimes, I spend more time than necessary on a task, or take on tasks personally that could easily be delegated to someone else. In order to avoid missing deadlines, I have learned when to move onto the next task and be confident when delegating work to others.”

4. "Why should we hire you?" Tailor your response to the job description and the expectations of the interviewer. If the interviewer has mentioned what qualities it takes to be successful in this role, incorporate those in your answer. Discuss ideas for how you might save or make the company money in this position. This demonstrates that you are focused on results, performance and action. You can also reiterate your interest in the position or company and tell the interviewer why you want the job.

Recommended answer: “From the way you described the position earlier, it seems like you are looking for someone to come in and take charge immediately. It also seems like you might be experiencing problems with some of your database systems. With my ten years of experience working with financial databases, I have saved companies thousands of dollars by streamlining systems. I am high energy and an extremely quick learner, which will allow me to hit the ground running and analyze problems quickly. I have the ability to stay focused in stressful situations and I'm confident I would be a great addition to your team."

5. "Why are you looking to leave your current job?" It is important to always answer this question honestly, but try to spin your response in a positive light. Do not use this as an opportunity to speak badly about your former supervisor or position. It is ok to say you were laid off – that’s a pretty common situation in today’s economy. Try to tie in the reason you are leaving to some of the benefits that this new company may offer.

Recommended answer: “In my last role, I felt I wasn’t challenged enough and I didn’t see a clear path for room for advancement within the company. While I did enjoy working there and appreciate the skills I developed while with the company, I feel my skill set can be better utilized at a company like this, where my capabilities will be recognized and there is the opportunity for growth.

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