How to answer common interview questions

Today, we will be talking about some of the most common Interview questions and how to answer them in an effective and confident manner.

Interviewing can be a stressful experience but with some guidance, we can help you impress potential employers.

Tell me about yourself

When employers ask you this question, they are trying to understand why you’re interviewing for this particular position.  What actually makes you qualified for this position and why do you want it.

You want to answer this question in a way that connects your previous experience to the new opportunity this position presents for you professionally.

Sample Response
I’ve lived in the community for the last ten years and have worked in the food service industry for three years. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family and volunteering at the food pantry. I guess you can say, I am a “people person,” because I like getting to know people, and helping people.

What are your greatest strength?

Employers are looking for individuals who have skills/abilities that match the position they are interviewing.  Research the job description beforehand and try to connect your abilities to what the job requires.

The answer to this question should really hammer home 2-3 strengths that are truly your best skills and would be valuable in that workplace.

Sample Response
My time management skills are excellent and I’m organized, efficient, and take pride in excelling at my work.
I pride myself on my customer service skills and my ability to resolve what could be difficult situations. I have a customer service certification and 10 years’ experience.

How do you handle stress and pressure?

Employers want to hire individuals who handle stress and pressure in an adult and professional manner.  They want an employee who will help create a positive, productive work environment.  Employers want consistency and stability.

Sample Response
Stress is in every work situation at some time. The appropriate way to deal with stress is to make sure I have the correct balance between good stress and bad stress. I need good stress to stay motivated and productive.  When I am experiencing bad stress, I need to recognize this is happening, use calming techniques, and finish my work as efficiently as possible.

What is your greatest weakness?

For many people interviewing, this question can feel like a trick or trap.  Do I answer truthfully and potentially cost myself a job??  When answering this question, you want to turn a potential weakness into a positive.  Employers want someone who can turn their weakness into something valuable for the company/organization.

Sample Response
Sometimes I can push too urgently for a task to get done. I triple check items because I want our work to reflect the greatness of the company. These are “weaknesses” I’m aware of, but I’ve always found ways to turn them into assets. You can be sure with me that projects will be done on time and my work will be close to perfect.

Tell me about a time when you received negative feedback from your manager. How did you handle this?

In asking this question, employers are trying to determine if you are a positive individual who is capable of adapting and adjusting in the workplace.  Many individuals have difficulty with long term employment because of interpersonal difficulties.  The employer is trying to figure out your suitability for the role.

Sample Response
I had worked hard on a remerchandising project at the store I was employed at. My boss told me that he was disappointed in the quality of the remerchandising efforts.

I was surprised as I felt I had prepared and worked well but I asked my boss to go through the issues/problems with the remerchandising. He pointed out company policies about how items were merchandised and I realized that I had not used that data to complete my task.

I researched the updated information and asked if I could rework things and prepare a new display. He agreed.

This time, my remerchandising efforts produced a result that followed company policy and won approval from my manager.

How to Format A Resume for an Applicant Tracking System

What is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

An Applicant Tracking System is a specialized program designed to review resumes before they reach human eyes. When applying for jobs online, an ATS scans your resume for keywords and phrases matching the job description, filtering out candidates who may not meet the requirements.

How Do ATSs Work?

Application Tracking systems use the information from job listing to create a profile of what an ideal candidate may look like. When a candidate submits a job application, their resume is scanned for key words and phrases and compared to the ideal profile.

Applicant Tracking Systems allow hiring managers to more quickly find the ideal candidate by automatically weeding out anyone who does not fit the position. In other words, if your resume doesn’t match or is not optimized to be read by an ATS, then your resume will probably not be seen.


  • Use basic fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, Tahoma, Calibri, and Helvetica.
  • Use only black font.
  • Use reverse chronological format (most recent jobs towards the top)
  • Utilize a skills summary section and emphasize the skills you have that match the position and job description
  • Use keywords from the job description in your job history and skills.
  • Use simple bullet points either solid circles or squares.
  • Write out Months and dates for your work history, using standard formats.

ATS Don’ts

  • Use complex formatting elements such as templates, tables, headers, columns, borders, lines, graphics, symbols or shading. Automated systems cannot parse always complex elements and they may make your resume harder to read in an automated system.
  • Stuff your resumes with keywords: This can make your resume harder to read for a hiring manager. Just use the keywords that apply to your work history and skills.

5 Common Resume Questions and Answers

I’m Nathan, a Workforce Facilitator at the PA CareerLink® South Central Region and I get a lot of questions about how to write resumes.

Have you ever been asked to create Resume and had trouble getting started? That’s a very normal feeling, but hopefully we can remove some of that anxiety.

In this article, we’re going to answer some of the most common questions we get about writing a resume. If you have more questions that we didn’t answer here, please email us or comment under our video at the top.

What should be on your resume?

Your resume should be a marketing tool to sell yourself as the perfect person for the position you’re applying to. For each resume, you’ll want to highlight only the accomplishments and skills that are relevant to the job at and. You don’t want to or need to include your whole work history, but tailor your resume to the position and job description. Tailoring your resume is the process of matching your resume to the job description. All the resumes you send out should be tailored to the position.
There are a few sections that most if not all resumes should have:

  • Personal Information such as your name, home address, phone number, and email address
  • Your relevant work history
  • Educational achievements such as degrees, awards, and relevant projects
  • Skills and Accomplishments

How do you write a resume without much experience?

Creating a resume with minimal experience can seem overwhelming. In this situation, highlight your educational achievements, including certifications or relevant projects you have worked on. Additionally, you should include a summary of your skills and working strengths that may serve in place if your work history. This is called a functional resume and it emphasizes your ability to adapt and learn in a new position, despite minimal work experience.

How do you format your resume?

Keep it Simple. Your primary goal is to make your resume as easy to read for the hiring manager as possible. This means using basic fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, and Helvetica, using 11-14 point font, and 1.5-2 paragraph spacing.

Additionally, you want to keep everything consistent. If you use one type of heading for one section, use that same heading throughout or if you use a type of bullet point in your work history, use that same bullet style in your skills. The main focus us readability for the hiring manager. If your resume is harder to read due to using different fonts, spacing, or other inconsistencies, a hiring manager may not finish the resume.

How do you explain gaps in your work history?

Gaps in your resume feel like a deal breaker, but often aren’t if you talk about them in a way that relevant to your future employer. Talk about the skills you gained such as taking off time to raise children, making you excellent at time management and multitasking. Then get into your relevant work history. Gaps in a resume are not a deal breaker. Many people have responsibilities outside of traditional work that are just as useful for skill development and growth as a job.

How do I make my resume the best it can be?

Proofread, proofread, proofread, and proofread some more. Your write your best resume when you take the time to carefully check it for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Don’t rely solely on spell and grammar check, they can’t catch everything. After writing your resume, take a break, do something else and then look at it with a pair of fresh eyes. You can also ask friends, family or staff at your local PA CareerLink® to look it over for an outside perspective. Often the smallest mistakes are the ones that can determine if you get a call back or not.

Thank you for reading our article and we hope you found this helpful. Feel free to view our video on the same topic and contact us if you have more questions.

Here are some additional resume resources: