Doing Your Homework Before a Job Interview
Being prepared for a job interview is arguably more important than the interview itself. One of the worst feelings to have when in an interview is being asked a question you flat-out don’t know how to answer. There’s a simple way to avoid that feeling entirely – do your homework! Just because you already got your degree doesn’t mean you’re done studying. We understand job interviews can be extremely stressful. Here are some of the most popular interview questions, and assignments we can give you to answer them properly.
Question: Did you have a chance to check out our website?
Assignment: This one’s pretty easy – ALWAYS check out the website!
- Make a note of their “vibe.” The larger headings may give you insight into what’s most important to them, and their verbiage could be a tell-tale sign of the company vision and culture.
- If they have an FAQ section, there’s a great place to find some company-centric questions YOU can ask at the end of the interview (we’ll touch on that later).
- Create a short list of 2-3 things in your head with some things you like about the company. This may involve leaving their home page and delving in a little deeper to what they do. Don’t just say “yep, your website looks great!” and move on from the question. Propel the conversation forward by noting an interesting project they’ve worked on, a charity they work with, or a special service they offer.
Question: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Assignment: As the great wordsmith Dr. Seuss once said, “There is no one alive that is youer than you!” Don’t let this question freak you out. If ever there’s a place in the interview process – from submitting your resume to your first day on the job – to show your personality, here it is! Think of the answer in advance.
- Something important to note about this question: the interviewer most likely cares less about your answer to this question, and cares more about the confidence and enthusiasm (dare we say “wit”) you approach your answer with.
- If you really want to focus on being succinct, consider answering this question by starting out with “I can summarize myself in three words.” (Try to avoid pulling a Dwight Schrute.) Don’t pick the overused buzzwords we see so often on resumes i.e. detail oriented, results-driven, successful, responsible and the like. Take some inventory on yourself and pick three words that can accurately summarize you.
- For a slightly more long-winded answer (but still not too abstract), try prefacing with “Those who know me best say I’m…” or “A quotation I try to live my life by is…” so you can have a jumping-off point. Homework is easy to do on these – just ask someone close to you to describe you (in a professional capacity), or recall your favorite quote and figure out why it speaks to you.
- If you’re a confident person who’s not waivered by nerves (and you’re confident the interview has started off well already), consider “Well, I googled myself today, and this is what I found…” or “The compliment people give me most frequently is…” These don’t necessarily require a predetermined answer, so make sure your head is clear if you approach the question this way.
Question: What’s your biggest strength?
Assignment: Say what you mean, and be able to give some evidence to back it up.
- Talk about a strong quality or skill you have. It doesn’t have to be too specific, but if it’s a very general buzzword (organized, motivated, etc) be sure you can really speak to that quality. Give concrete examples of how you employed that skill in past roles you’ve been in (and if you’re a new grad, how you employed it in school) and bring it full-circle by telling your interviewer how it will apply to the role you’re in contention for. It’s like writing a paper for English class – you can’t just put a quote in your paper and move on! Give it some evidence and analysis to show you really know what you’re talking about.
- It’s always important to stay on track in an interview and keep all your answers relevant to the job at hand (unless otherwise asked). Don’t tell your interviewer that your biggest strength is being able to play FIFA for 36 hours without eating, or that the fudge brownies you bake are award-winning. Your interviewer will become frustrated if you veer too far off course.
Now that we’ve finished discussing some of the tougher interview questions that can leave you scratching your head, let’s talk about perhaps the toughest one of all: when your interviewer asks you “Do you have any questions for me?” Check back next week to get some awesome tips on the best questions to ask the person interviewing you. (Spoiler alert – when asked if you have any questions, the answer should NEVER be no!)