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Negotiating Table: Answer the 10 Most Common Interview Questions

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As a former recruiter, Jaime Petkanics has asked these common interview questions of candidates thousands of times because they provide a lot of insight to who a candidate is and if they might be a good fit for an open role. Here are her tips for how to answer the 10 most common interview questions:

1. “Tell me about yourself,” “Walk me through your background,” or “Walk me through your resume”

How to answer: To answer this question, you want to tell a short (under five minutes) but interesting story that highlights the most relevant parts of your work experience, education, and other skills/hobbies. The best answers are chronological and each part of the story builds on the part before. An example might be:

I studied communications in college because I was really interested in the media and based on loving my coursework, I pursued an internship at NBC. During that internship I did X, Y, and Z… and so on…

Additional resources: more on how to answer this question here

2. Why are you suitable for this job?

How to answer: This is the interviewer asking you how what you’ve done in the past will enable you to do the tasks of the job you are interviewing for. Study the job description, go line by line, and for each responsibility listed, think of an example from your past when you have done a similar task. You can also speak to what skills you’ve developed that would help you do a great job. You can frame the answer like this:

“I noticed on the job description that X is one of the main responsibilities in this job. In my last role as a Y, Z was one of my main responsibilities and definitely have prepared me to do X.”

If there’s anything you haven’t done, don’t worry. Most interviewers don’t expect you to make a career move to do that exact same thing you were doing.

Additional resources: More on how to answer this question here.

3. “Why do you want to work at this company” or “What do you know about this company?”

How to answer: You are being asked this because employees who are passionate about a company are more likely to be more passionate about their work. Additionally if your interviewer really loves the company they work for, that’s something they’ll want to connect with you on. There are many good reasons why you may want to work at a certain company (the leadership, the mission, the business, the culture, the product, etc.) Do your research beforehand, pick the reasons that are genuinely most important to you, and be ready to speak to them.

Additional resources: More on how to answer this question here.

Have a question about an upcoming interview? Ask Jaime Petkanics for direct feedback and advice!

Click here for the rest of Jaime’s tips on how to answer these common interview questions.


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