Ten Interview Questions to be Prepared For & How to Answer Them

As a recent college graduate who has gone on her fair share of interviews (may that phone ring any day now) I’ve be asked tons of various interview questions, from the most common and typical, to the unexpected and bizarre. Here’s a a list you should be ready to answer on your next encounter while job hunting, I’ve certainly heard them all.

1. If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?
Hm, you may be thinking you accidentally applied for a job at a zoo, but don’t be mistaken, this is a common interview question. The interviewer is looking for you to show off your traits, but trying to trick you into being thrown off (sneaky bastards). Don’t panic. Think of an animal, it’s traits and personality, and which one best suits you. I personally tend to answer with dog: personable, energetic, and loyal. But maybe something along the lines of horse: graceful, calm, and friendly, fits you best. Take time to explore the options, the possibilities are endless and it’s an awesome chance for you to impress your interviewer!

2. If you were a day of the week, which one would you be?
Make sure you have an explanation for this. Again, as the animal question conquers overcoming the fear of broadening your personality, the day of the week question brings your temperament and character into the spotlight. Are you relaxed like Sunday, busy like Monday, or rushed like Thursday? Take time to think about what each day means to you, why, and how you appear because of it. Again, don’t be thrown off by questions like this that have an overall simple meaning to your interviewer.

3. If you could be any children’s book, what would you be and why?
There are endless possibilities here to show your stuff, too. Again, your answer needs to have a solid follow-up. Are you the Little Train That Could, because you struggled in finding your passion, but really strive now? Or maybe you’re Winnie the Pooh because you always seem to find a life lesson in everything. Please don’t answer with, “…because I loved when my mom/dad read it to me as a kid!” Corny, unoriginal, and just plain boring.

4. Why should we hire you?
This is the most important question you will be asked during your entire interview. Your answer could set you apart from other candidates and seal the deal that you are the right one for the job. DO NOT, I repeat, do not, make this question about YOU, or how great YOU are and how this job is the next step for YOU. Trust me, your interviewer is not asking you this because they care about YOU. They are asking you this because they want to know how YOU can benefit THEM. Your answer needs to have quality – and it doesn’t even have to be long. This employer solely wants to know what about you makes this position the right one for your shoes, and how these skills and capabilities are going to further their company, not how it’s going to further your own career.

5. What’s your biggest weakness?
This question is a trick, and trust me when I say your interviewer doesn’t want to hear about how you tend to get in drunken fights at the local bar on Saturdays or that you failed college algebra twice. This is a chance for you to take a “weakness” of yours and turn it into a positive. Something along the lines of, “I’m a really organized person and when things aren’t systematic or regulated I tend to take time to make sure that they are.” or, “I work really well under pressure and I enjoy time management, so if there’s not a set deadline, I tend to set them for myself to make sure everything is done in an orderly fashion and is always on time.” Hello, these are not really weaknesses – and that’s the point! You’re the perfect candidate, you don’t have a weakness, duh.

6. Describe (name of company here) to me as if I was just hearing about it for the first time.
Always, always, always do your research on a company before you head to your interview. Read their mission/vision statement, know the CEO’s name, and most definitely spend a great deal of time on the ‘About Us’ page. If you can’t describe the company back to your interviewer, you will come off as unprepared and uninterested in the position, company, and even industry itself. You should also ALWAYS be prepared to answer questions along the lines of, “If you were hired tomorrow, what would you change to help this company?”, “What is our motto?”, “Do you know what social networks we are listed on?”, “Do you know any of our competitors?”, and so on and so on – the list is really endless here, and they could quite possibly ask you nothing at all about the company, but you always want to be ready if they do. Did I say always?

7. What are some of your hobbies?
Your interviewer wants to know that you have some sort of life besides work, even though you made it seem like work is all you think about – right? Go for hobbies that make you seem cultured. Don’t give bland, boring, typical answers such as, ‘hanging out with my friends’ or ‘going shopping’. I’m snoring and so is your interviewer. You like to cook and try new recipes, you enjoy going hiking on a sunny weekend afternoon, you love curling up with a good book, how about playing soccer/softball/flag football with that new pick-up team! Oh, you don’t? Well, you better start, because these are things you can talk about with your interviewer – sort of a break from all the toughie questions – and maybe they can even relate to a few. Hey, your interviewer loves trying new recipes – how about that?! And please, don’t lie, they almost always follow up with questions about one or two of your hobbies, and you don’t want to start sounding like a dope now, especially because this is one of the easiest questions to encounter on an interview. (Blogger side note: Maybe it’s just me and my sneaky-[busi]ness, but I like to search for my interviewer on Twitter or FB, especially if they’re younger, and try to find something they’re interested in or been tweeting about lately! Nothing like coincidentally relating to the same thing, huh?)

8. What was the last book you read for fun?
This question is almost always followed up by, “Who was it by?” or “What was it about?” So again, I beg of you, please don’t lie. If your last book was 50 Shades of Grey or Harry Potter or something ungodly such as Twilight, please, please, please have a different book in mind. Your interviewer doesn’t want to hear about Christian Grey and Anna’s first, ehem, ‘date’; believe me on this one. Also, never answer that you haven’t read a book recently, or even since you were last assigned one in school. At the very least, have the title of a book and a short synopsis of it in mind. (Blogger side note: If you haven’t picked up a book recently, do so – if not for the interview, than for yourself.)

9. When can you start? and, Are you willing to re-locate/travel?
IMMEDIATELY and YES. There are no other answers to this question – ever – even if the answer is ‘not until after the 4th of never’ and ‘no, I’m happy where I’m located currently.’ Say it with me, immediately and yes! Now, repeat it to yourself. If your answer is anything else, you are guaranteed to throw the interview from the second the words leave your mouth. You at least want the chance to be offered the job before you turn it down because of location. If you should be asked these questions, you know no other words besides, what? Right, immediately and yes!

10. If I were to call your first listed reference, what would they say about you?
This can be kind-of a toughie. You don’t want to come off cocky, but you also don’t want to appear weak. Here’s the thing to remember, your references are your references for a reason, and that reason is: because they will say good things! Your interviewer knows that just as much as you do, they just want to know that you can live up to the hype. Go for something simple here and stick to valuable personality traits and relatable skills such as, “She/He would probably say that I’m a hard worker and very goal oriented.” Just make sure that these aren’t traits about yourself that you’ve repeatedly said throughout the interview in similar questions about describing yourself, and definitely don’t be arrogant or coincided. It’s alright to act a little shy and modest here, but also have an answer that relates to why this person is your reference.

The list could go on forever. I’ve been through interviews where I’ve been asked five questions, and I’ve been through interviews where I’ve been asked thirty. It all depends on the company and the interviewer – but remember, it’s better to be overly prepared than under. Always be ready to answer at least five words that best describe you, a challenge you’ve faced and overcome (best if it applies to the field/job you’re going for), where do you see yourself in 3/5/10 years, etc.

The best thing you can do in an interview is be YOU! It’s been said that an interviewer knows in the first three minutes of an interview if they would like to hire the candidate or not. Appear happy, friendly, and approachable, but not overly-excited (you’ll seem fake!). Do not be nervous, do not have chipped nails (girls!), dress professionally, have a firm handshake, and bring a copy of your resume. The most important part of an interview is to talk. Turn the interview into a conversation. If your interviewer is planning to talk to you for an hour, and has thirty questions to get through, by the time that hour is up, you want them to have only asked you half – because you’ve been so prepared and you clearly know what you’re talking about!

I wish all of you job-hunters the best of luck, even though you don’t need it 🙂

– C

Have you ever been asked an odd or unexpected question during an interview? How’d you handle it? Have your own tricks to answering questions during an interview? Share in the comments below!

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