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.