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Interview Tips

You are about to sit down face-to-face, over Skype, over lunch, and/or through a phone conference with the person who will decide your future employment. What do you say? We've compiled the most common job interview questions and suggestions on how to answer them.

Question 1: Tell me something about yourself.
This is where you want to do your elevator pitch. You want this pitch to be 30 seconds to a minute long. This elevator pitch should include three main parts. The first part should be who you are now. The second part should consist of who you were and the last part should included who or what you aspire to be. You also want to provide details that show you are well-rounded. Give examples of activities that show a variety of interests and skills.

For Example,

My name is Jane Doe. I am current sophomore honors biology undergraduate at Alcorn State University. I am involved in a variety or clubs, organizations, and an active member of Alcorn State University's Cheer leading squad. I am a former environmental activist who has advocated and attended rallies on several environmental causes. Yet, I aspire to become an environmental lawyer who works on advocating, maintaining, and protecting habitat.

Question 1: Tell me something about yourself.
Provide details that show you are well-rounded. You may briefly mention jobs that you have held in school.Give examples of activities that show a variety of interests and skills.

Question 2: What are your career goals?
Tailor your answer to touch upon something in the job description. You may talk about specific skills that you want to continue to develop and how the company is a recognized leader in that area. Because most employees will change jobs many times in their careers, it’s best to keep your answer focused on a field of interest rather than a job title, e.g., “I want to become an expert in public relations practice”; or “I want to become an expert web designer”; or “I want to become a professional artist.” “I want to advance in non-profit management.”

Question 3: What is your greatest strength?
Be honest. It may be that you’re a great organizer and can manage multiple assignments at once. You may be a strong writer and communicator. You may be a computer whiz. You may have a strong work ethic. Assess your best skills, especially those related to the job for which you’re interviewing.

Question 4: What is your greatest weakness?
Try to frame the answer in a way that also shows a positive trait. If your greatest weakness is impatience, you may want to say that you’re a person who likes to get the job done and you sometimes are ahead of others on the team. If your weakness is your writing skills, you may want to say that you’re best at projects requiring analysis and interpretation of data and that you’re far better at that than other skills such as writing.

Question 5: What is the greatest challenge you’ve ever faced and how did you handle it?
Again, be honest. It may be sticking with a hard course and seeing it through. It may be holding two jobs while you were in school. It may be that you were asked to fill a leadership role and had to quickly get up to speed. Try to make your answer related to a skill the employer is seeking.

Question 6: What job responsibilities have you held?
Talk about part-time jobs and internship positions that have given you time management skills, leadership skills, project management skills, communication experience or other strengths that employers seek.

Question 7: What do you know about our company?
Do your homework by reviewing the company website and any company publications available. Talk to those you may know who work there. Know the job responsibilities fully and where your position fits into the overall structure. Be prepared to show that you’ve done your research.

Question 8: How do you evaluate success?

Your answer for this question is much less important than any of the others we've listed. What’s important is what’s implied—employers don’t care if you’re into fly fishing or Baroque painting, they care about your personal values, well-roundness, and dedication. What propels you into action?

Question 9: Why are you the best person for this job?
Summarize your qualifications, your strengths, and your experience. Emphasize your desire to be part of the team and make an immediate contribution. Be prepared to talk about why you feel that you would fit into the company culture. What do you admire about the company?

Question 10: What questions do you have for me?
Ask questions specific to the company or the job: e.g., what is your goal for this position? How would you judge the success of the person you hire? It is never a good idea to ask about time off or salary (unless the employer volunteers it) in your initial interview.

REMEMBER: Always follow up. Always write a thank you note and/or email to the potential employer.