When you’re under pressure and keenly interested in landing a particular job, every interview questions can seem like a tough one, even “How are you?” and “How was traffic?” Preparing for the toughest interview questions, however, can help reduce your stress going into the interview and give you the tools you need to make the best possible impression on hiring managers.
From “tell us about yourself” to “what is your greatest weakness?” and “why should we hire you?”, here is a how-to guide to preparing answers for even the toughest interview questions:
- Know the job description cold.
The job description is the single most valuable tool you have when preparing for an interview. It lists exactly what the requirements of the job are, in exactly the language the company likes and understands.
Go through the job description line by line. For each job duty listed, think of a way you can discuss it with specific references to your own work. For example, if the job description requires you to be proficient in a particular type of accounting software, like Peachtree, think about times you’ve had a breakthrough in learning how to use the software or a time you solved a tough problem with it. If you’re interviewing for a customer service position, think about how particular problems you’ve solved display your skills with people.
- Think “accomplishments,” not “duties.”
Once you know the job description by heart, it’s time to go beyond it. The job description lists the job’s duties, or minimum requirements. To truly impress your interviewer, however, you shouldn’t just talk about your ability to do these duties, but about the accomplishments you’ve reached while fulfilling them. If you found a way to make your call center more efficient while still meeting your daily quota or you increased sales in a tough area, think about how you’ll present these accomplishments during the interview.
- Learn about the company.
Hiring managers don’t just want to know that you can do the job, or even that you can succeed at it. They also want candidates who are genuinely enthusiastic about working for their company. To demonstrate your enthusiasm, learn all you can about the company. Pay close attention to the words the organization uses to describe itself, and work these into your interview answers. List two or three questions you want to ask about the company and the job, like “what does ‘a day in the life’ in this position look like?” or “why do you love working here?”
- Talk to a recruiter.
A recruiter who specializes in placing people in your field can help you prepare to discuss your own accomplishments and a particular employer’s company culture in glowing, memorable terms.