Quick Insight on Common Interview Questions

You landed an interview! Awesome, now you need to get ready to answer some common questions. We all know what is coming. 

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5-years?

Just do Google search of "job interview questions," and a huge list will appear. What you rarely see is the insight of a narrative versus stock answer. 

Let me explain, I used to be a college instructor. Students would ask me why they received a low-grade on an essay. I asked them a simple question, "explain the paper in one sentence." They would look puzzled and then rattle off a list of what they wrote about. I would stop them and repeat my question. The point is, you should be able to speak in clear sentences when you really know a topic.

For an interview, you are the topic of discussion. Can you present a narrative of your life, or do you just list bullet points? Don't list out your strengths, explain where you are strong through a story. For example, you could discuss a project you oversaw and how you pulled the team together. The strength on display is leadership, yet the story is more powerful than simply stating "leadership" as a strength.

Make sure to have these stories ready. I have done mock interviews with professional organizations, and I intentionally interrupt people to prove a point. Here is an example. I was doing a mock interview and asked a standard question about previous experience. The respondent said they had provided innovative solutions to problems in former positions. I asked for two examples . . . they were stumped and didn't have an answer. Do not give stock answers. 

They did not have a story and just gave a response they thought I wanted to hear. 

Take some time to examine your life and pick out the best stories. Once you have those, you will be ready for any interview. 

Matt Avery