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What You Need to Know to Answer 7 Common Interview Questions

Tips for preparing great answers to common interview questions.

Interviewing for a role you want can feel intimidating. However, preparing in advance will help the process go more smoothly and make you more comfortable. While no two interviews are the same, there are some common interview questions that you can expect. Here are seven common questions and tips for being ready to answer them.

1. Tell me about yourself.

Interviews are about employers getting to know you, so talking about yourself is something you’ll need to get used to. When preparing for this question, think of reasons why you’re a good fit for the job and the employer. But don’t talk about what’s already on your resume. The interviewer has seen your qualifications—that’s why they’ve brought you in for the interview. 

Instead, start by talking a bit about your background and why you’ve chosen this career path. You can also share something you’re passionate about, like an extracurricular activity, hobby, or organization that you volunteer with. Finish your answer by mentioning some of your career goals.

2. How did you hear about this job?

This question gives you a chance to show the interviewer that you’re interested in the company and excited about the job. If you found out about the job at a virtual career fair session, through your career center, or an alum at the company, be sure to mention this. Or share how you follow them on Handshake to get new job alerts, or check their company website every week. 

What you don’t want to say is, “I sent in a ton of applications and you’re one of the companies that called me for an interview. ” Even if this is true, share what specifically caught your eye about this role that made you want to apply. 

3. Why do you want to work here?

A big part of preparing for your interview is doing research on the company. Even if you know a lot about them, take time to read through their Handshake page, their website, and search for recent articles or press releases.

Think about what appeals to you most about the employer, and point out anything you discovered about them that impressed you. Is it their commitment to giving back to the community? Their learning and development opportunities for employees? Mentioning something that may not be common knowledge will show that you’ve done your homework and have genuine interest in them.

4. Why do you want this role?

Similarly to questions 2 and 3, this question is best answered using specific reasons, not a general statement. Employers are looking for a candidate that is enthusiastic about the role and the company. For example, “I’m graduating in May and I need a job” is not the answer you want to give, even though it may be true.

Share what excited you most about this role. It could be working for a company and team you admire or the impact you’ll be able to make. 

5. How do you deal with challenges? 

Employers ask this question to learn how you tackle problems and solve them. Share your process for taking on challenges at school or work, such as breaking down a big project into manageable steps and creating a daily to-do list.

You also may be asked to describe a time that something didn’t go as planned, and how you dealt with it. Think of a story before the interview that demonstrates how you successfully handled a difficult situation. Describe what happened and the steps you took to overcome it. Even better if you can share what you’ve learned from this experience and how it helped you grow. 

6. Why should we hire you?

This may sound like a tricky question, but again, preparing for it will help you answer well. First, be sure to go back and review the job description. Like you did when you were writing your cover letter, pay attention to the role’s requirements, as well as the skills and qualifications listed for candidates. Think about how you match those qualifications and how your experiences can set you apart from the other candidates. 

Then use this question as an opportunity to discuss anything that you haven’t been able to point out yet. Is there something you really want to highlight or reiterate about your qualifications? If you are going to talk about something new, make sure it illustrates why you’d be a valuable addition to the team.

On the other hand, this also can be a chance for you to address a previous question that you don’t think you answered as well as you could have. If you’re saying to yourself “I can’t leave without the employer knowing this about me,” now is the time to share it. 

7. Do you have any questions for me?

The answer should always be yes! Preparing a few questions for your interview demonstrates your interest in the role and the employer. It’s also a great opportunity to learn details that will help you decide if the company is a good fit for you. 

Learn more about preparing questions, and find some examples here.

Want to practice your answers? Contact your school’s career center and see if you can schedule a mock interview.