Preparing for a job interview can be nerve-wracking. It’s impossible to know exactly which questions your interviewer may ask, but taking the time to prepare for some of the most common interview questions will help you put your best foot forward and can go a long way in helping you make a lasting impression. Here are some suggestions you can practice with so that you can go to your next interview ready to rock it.
What do you know about our company?
I can pretty much guarantee that any recruiter will ask you this question. It helps us see who you really are and shows us immediately what kind of research you’ve done to prep for the interview. Doing your homework in advance not only conveys your interest in the company and shows that you care about the interview, it also shows that you took the necessary time to come prepared for your meeting, which is an important trait for any job. If a candidate can come to an interview well-versed enough to talk about the mission and values of an organization and how those things align to their personal values — recruiters will take notice.
Why are you the best candidate for this position?
It may sound cliché, but this is another question that’s a favorite of just about all recruiters. And really? It’s smart, because it puts the ball in your court. Here’s your chance to sell yourself and to talk about your accomplishments and passion and interests for a few minutes. Be specific about those accomplishments and show that you’re capable of identifying and solving problems. A good answer to this “old reliable” question shows that you’re confident and capable — this is your opportunity to shine. Don’t be afraid to talk yourself up and tie in specific requirements related to the position you’re interviewing for.
Can you walk me through your resume?
You’ll undoubtedly be asked about your work history and other specifics mentioned on your resume. When asked about the details of your previous positions, I’m not looking for candidates who will just read their resumes back to me. I’m looking for someone who is ready, willing and able to expand upon that brief summary of experience listed on the resume and give me an overview of the things you made happen during your career — even if you’re relatively inexperienced. You may be a new grad or relatively new in the workplace, but you can always use examples of leadership and accomplishments related to your time in school, in the military, or jobs you might have held part-time as you were working on your degree. Experience comes in all shapes and sizes, and your ability to talk about your work and/or experience history is something most recruiters are very interested in. One word of caution here: Be honest and don’t embellish your accomplishments.
How do you handle constructive feedback?
One question that many recruiters rely on relates to a candidate’s ability to handle constructive feedback. And in the engineering field, that’s doubly important. There’s great value in constructive feedback, but for most of us, it’s difficult to swallow. What a recruiter is generally looking for here is how you handled a past situation — and he or she might ask you for an example of a situation that involved constructive feedback, so prepare for that. He or she will want to know how you responded and how you can be counted on to work as part of a team. Key things to consider are: Did you graciously accept the advice and take the appropriate measures to improve? How you respond to a question like this says a lot about your listening skills, your ability to maintain strong professional relationships and how you react under pressure.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
The old “strengths and weaknesses” question — you knew it would be here, didn’t you? Well, this one can be tricky. It’s easy to talk about your strengths and the things you’re good at, but many candidates are apprehensive when it comes to talking about weaknesses. What we’re looking for here is that you’ve identified an area of opportunity and have put measures in place to make improvements. We don’t want to hear that you’re a perfectionist or that you work too hard. Those aren’t true weaknesses, and it shows insecurity in identifying the things you really could improve upon. Think about this question in particular in advance of the interview and come prepared to answer it honestly and in a way what shows you’re analytical, open to improvement and focused on delivering great work product.
Well, there you have it. Some of my best advice about preparing for a job interview and some of the questions that are typically the most common. The important thing to remember with any interview question is that there aren’t right or wrong answers. By being prepared, you’ll be better able to anticipate certain questions and respond with thoughtful answers. What’s your favorite interview question? How about your most dreaded one? I’d love to hear from you.
Other posts you might enjoy:
Most Common Mistakes Job Candidates Make
LifeHacker: Top 10 Ways to Rock Your Resume
FastCompany: 10 Interview Tips from a CEO Headhunter
Matt Rosentreter is a college recruiter for Burns & McDonnell who works with universities across the country to recruit interns and top entry-level talent to join our engineering, architecture, construction and drafting teams. Feel free to connect with Matt on LinkedIn to learn more about the many opportunities available at Burns & McDonnell.