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5 questions you should be able to answer in an interview

They come up a lot and you should have a great response ready

5 questions you should be able to answer in an interview

If you’re preparing for a job interview, you need to consider the types of questions you’ll be facing. Here are five questions you should be able to answer in an interview because there's a good chance you'll encounter them during your job search.

What do you know about our company?

This question is posed to see if you’ve done your homework. And it’s not enough just to glance at the company’s website the night before your interview, says Lauren Milligan of ResuMAYDAY. “Learn about the company owners, mission, competitors, current advertising/promotions, other media mentions, community outreach, sales/how many locations, and business reach.” Being able to talk about the organization beyond the basics shows you’re willing to be invested in it.

Tell me about yourself.

There’s more to this question than meets the eye, Milligan says. “There is always a silent ‘in a way that matters to me’ at the end of this statement. In the first interview, the employer doesn’t so much care about your family and hobbies; they just want to know if you’re qualified to plant butt in their chair.” For this question, have a quick elevator pitch that talks about your high-level skills and your career goals in a way that matches the organization’s goals and culture, she says.

Can you describe a time when you made a wrong decision and how you handled it?

This question requires a real, serious answer, says Mary Nestor-Harper of MJNH Consulting. And “‘I’ve never made a wrong decision’ is the wrong answer.” The interviewer isn’t necessarily looking for a catastrophe -- just a time you misjudged a situation, and everyone has done that before.

“Explain what happened, don’t blame anyone else or the circumstances for your decision,” Nestor-Harper says. “Show how the situation was resolved and what you learned from it that makes you a better employee. This question isn’t so much about what you did, but your ability to take responsibility for your actions, solve problems, and end with a positive result.”

What have you been doing since your last job?

Don’t say “Looking for a job,” cautions Milligan. “Employers want people who are hungry to develop their professional skills and stay current in their industry. Talk about membership in associations, online or classroom coursework, certification programs, mentoring others, volunteering (not at your kid’s school – something within a professional realm).”

What questions do you have for me (the interviewer)?

This is a common way to wrap up the interview, and Nestor-Harper says “I don’t have any” isn’t an acceptable answer.  “And this isn’t the time to ask how soon after hire you can take a vacation or get a raise.” Instead, ask questions that show you’ve researched the company and its mission. This shows the interviewer you care about the company and aren’t just looking for a job, she explains. She says some good questions to ask include, “What does it take for someone in this company to be successful?  Why did the last person in this position leave?  If the interviewer is also the hiring manager, ask what’s most important to him in when hiring someone for the job. This will demonstrate your genuine interest in the position, company and the job itself.”

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