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3 Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Author: Darcy Raven

Here are 3 common questions that you may be asked during an interview. Even though these questions are common, interviewers aren't looking for common answers. To help, I have broken down the three most common questions, translated what is really being asked, and then provided a framework for answering the question. I have also included examples of terrible answers that should be avoided for these questions.

Question number one: Tell me about a time you failed?

Translation: How do you handle a difficult stressful situation?

It can be awkward to talk about a legitimate failure during an interview when you're trying to show the best version of yourself. Don't think of this question as a test of your competency or resourcefulness. It is designed to gauge whether you have the nerve and personality to overcome adversity.

Answer this question by talking about a situation that was out of your control. For example: If you've ever been a part of a company that was running out of money or were indirectly part of a work disagreement that affected you, now is the time to talk about how you handled the stress and how you overcame it.

Popular Terrible answers include: “I didn't get along with a coworker.” “I struggled to balance work and life.” “failed with time management.”

Question number two: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Translation: Do your goals, and aspirations match what the company or role can offer you?

This question is to see how ambitious yet dedicated you are.

The best way to answer this is to find connections between your goals and the job description. Matching your long term goals to the company and position shows you are serious about the position and are ready to commit.

Popular Terrible answers include: “Somewhere where I get to work hard with people I like.” “I want to be my own boss.”

Question number three: Why should we hire you?

Translation: Do you really understand what the company is looking for?

The key here is to do your research. Look into the company's website and every interview or blog post you can find that hints at their vision or product roadmap. Armed with that information, speak to the person interviewing you like you already work there. Tell them how you'd contribute immediately, what problems you'd fix, and how you'd advance the company's vision.

This should be a thought-out prepared answer. Do not simply give yourself adjectives. Everyone in an interview is a “great self-starter” or “works great in a team”.

Popular Terrible answers include: “I'm a high-energy thinker with a growth mindset.” “I have a track record of success in similar roles.” “I have a degree from...”

Though these three questions may not always be asked, they are great questions to think about and prep for before an interview no matter what. These questions set the tone for how you want to present yourself and how you can fit in the company you are interviewing for. Having a clear, specific answer and idea of what you can offer will set you apart from other candidates interviewing.

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