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Standard Interview Questions: What Matters the Most?

Standard interview questions: What matters the most?

According to Dr. Allen Huffcutt (as cited in Brafman & Brafman, 2008) there are 10 questions that interviewers ask most frequently:

1. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
2. Why did you decide to pursue this position?
3. Tell me why I should hire you?
4. What do you see yourself doing in five years?
5. What do you hope to earn in five years?
6. What do you know about our company?
7. How would you describe yourself to others?
8. Which college subjects do you like best? Least?
9. Why did you leave your last job? (Why are you leaving your current job?)
10. What do you really want to do with your life?

As an interviewee, you might wonder "what are these questions really getting at and which ones are the most critical to achieving success in this interview"? The answer may surprise you.

While all of these questions serve some purpose for the recruiter, the question which tends to reveal the most pertinent information about whether a candidate will perform well within the organization is question number six: "What do you know about our company?"

Surprised? Think about the question carefully. Recruiters want to hire someone who knows exactly what the company does and how they will enhance that organization. Demonstrating that you have taken time to learn about a company (and the position for which you are applying!) says a lot about you as a candidate. A good answer will reveal not only preparedness for the interview, but also an understanding of the company and its products and/or services, a sincere interest in the organization, and a strong connection between your interests and the position itself.

To prepare for question six, you need to learn about the company before the interview. Start with the ECS system. Read the job description carefully, then click the "company profile" and read about the company. Then, click the link for the company website. You might also consider business websites, such as:

Though question six is a significant question, it is important to be prepared to answer this core set of questions, as you can be relatively certain that some of them will appear in your next interview.

Some tips for preparing quality answers include:

- Align your answers with the job for which you are currently interviewing. Though your answer should be well thought-out and "prepared," avoid sounding rehearsed by fitting your answer with the specific requirements of the opportunity. For example, consider the following: What strengths of yours will help you excel in this role? What weaknesses might eliminate you from consideration, based on the requirements of the position? How does this opportunity align with your long term career goals?

- A good answer will take approximately 2 minutes to complete. Therefore, be ready to elaborate on the claims that you make in your answers. Be prepared to give specific, quantifiable examples to back up your statements.
Want more help on answering key interview questions? Check out the "Interview Strategies" PowerPoint presentation on your ECS homepage and make an appointment with an ECS counselor to brush up on your skills!

Brafman, O., & Brafman, R. (2008). SWAY: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior. New York: Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman.

"There is no certainty, only opportunity."
V for Vendetta (2005)

Authored by Rachel Ligman.