They say first impressions are everything. Well, this is your first chance to show the interviewer who you are and it will ultimately set the tone for the rest of the interview. This is not the time to drone on about your high school achievements and all of your favorite hobbies. Rather talk about how you decided on the career path you’re on and why you’re applying for the job. If your hobbies can be tied into the position you are applying for, then add those in! Our brains are trained to remember stories rather than facts. If you spew facts at the interviewer, you’re not going to stand out.
2. What do you know about the company?
Do your homework. Show them that you are prepared and that you care about this interview. What are the company values? What is the company culture like? But don’t just recite these things to the interviewer. Tell them how they compare to your own values and how you would fit in with their culture. Provide them with information to be able to picture you as a member of their team.
3. Why should we hire you?
This is essentially where you want to be able to tell them that you are the solution to their problem. You need to convey a message that says, “You need X, and I am the best person for the job because of Y.” Pay close attention to cues throughout the interview on what they are looking for. For example, if their motto says something about providing excellent customer service, be able to come back and provide an example on how you demonstrated this. Talk about your accomplishments, but also address any apprehensions they may have. Don’t have a ton of experience? Don’t brush that under the rug. Address it, and let them know that you are a hard worker and quick learner who has the will to succeed. Let them know that if they invested their time and money in you, they will benefit.
4. What are your greatest professional strengths?
Don’t just give them a list of adjectives to describe your proficiency in a certain area. Instead, give a strength followed by a situation that exemplifies this strength. For example, say you are very organized. You can say, “I love to be organized and work in an organized environment. Last summer when I was an intern at X Company, I noticed their filing system was inefficient. I collaborated with my team and presented an idea on how we could change it. Our boss approved it and we made the change.” Then state the impact that has had on the company and how you are continuing to work to improve that skill.
5. What are some of your weaknesses?
This is your interviewer’s prime time to 1) see if you are honest and 2) identify any major red flags. You definitely don’t want to lie and say that you don’t have any weaknesses because unless you are Beyoncé, you are not flawless. You also don’t want to list every possible thing that is wrong with yourself, or you will definitely turn off your interviewer. Instead, find an even balance. Tell them about one of your weaknesses, but let them know how you are working to improve it. For example, I’ve always struggled with procrastination, but I have started making daily to-do lists so I don’t get behind on what needs to be done.
6. Do you have any questions for us?
At this point in the interview, you are probably mentally exhausted, but do not bypass this portion! This is your chance to interview the interviewer. What do you want to know about the daily tasks of the position you’re applying for? What about the department? What is their favorite part of working here? There is no right or wrong answer to this. As long as you are finding the answers to the questions that will help you decide if the company is a good fit for you, you can’t really go wrong. Do try to stay away from questions related to salary unless they bring it up first!