Questions You May Be asked During an Interview
A critical part of a job search is the interview. Interviews can be stressful, but preparation will boost your confidence and allow you to present your best self.
To prepare for an interview, review the Telecom Toolbox blog posts 5 Personality Traits to Demonstrate During an Interview and 27 Best Tips for Acing a Second Interview. Then, keep those points in the back of your mind when considering how to answer the following common interview questions.
Q1: Tell me about yourself.
This opening statement made by the interviewer allows you to casually warm-up and highlight your social skills. Before your interview, review the Telecom Toolbox blog post The Five Key Features of an Elevator Pitch and the JobSpeaker’s YouTube video How to Answer “Tell Me about Yourself?” to help you craft a concise and engaging response.
In general, your response should be professional and highlight experiences that relate to the position you are seeking. This is true for sharing information about your disability, as well. If having a disability has provided you with relevant skills and experiences, it may be valuable to highlight these. For instance, if you are applying for a sales position, you might highlight how requesting accommodations for test-taking at college required you to engage with many different professors and honed your communication skills. Likewise, if you are applying for a technical position, you might highlight how you continually learn and master various software and hardware. Or if you want to highlight leadership skills, you might highlight a role in a campus disability advocacy group.
Q2: Why do you want to work here?
Q3: What skills do you bring to our company?
Q4: What excites you most about this position?
Q5: Can you share a professional goal you met and are proud of?
Questions 2 – 5 are easier to answer when you have done your homework.
Before your interview, review the job post and think of times you demonstrated the qualities and skills the employer is looking for. Then, during the interview, highlight your experience and how it applies to the position. Share instances when you proactively addressed a potential problem or created a system that helped with efficiency. For example, if you are interviewing for a customer service position, share a time you exceeded a customer’s expectations or when you resolved an issue with a cranky customer. If you noticed an outdated policy, procedure or system, share how you streamlined the process. Examples demonstrate you have applicable and practical experience. To overcome reservations employers may have about your visible disability, you might highlight how you have performed job tasks.
Further, make a point to research the company before the interview.
- Learn about the company’s values and culture
- Review their website and social media presence
- Google the founder of the organization
- Search for the company in the news
Once you have a sense of the company values and culture, think of answers that exhibit your knowledge of the company and your commitment to put your experience to work for the employer. Take the opportunity to sell yourself to the interviewer.
Here is an example of a response to an interview question that demonstrates your knowledge of the company as well as your commitment to community service:
I want to work here because giving back to the community is important to me, and I am excited about this company’s mission to work with disadvantaged youth. I also am aware that this company donates to local charities I am passionate about.
Q6: Why did you leave your last job?
Q7: Why is there a gap in your employment?
Employers interview candidates to identify red flags; expect to be asked about anything unusual on your resume. If you have something questionable in your work history, be prepared to talk about it. Demonstrate you have reflected on and learned from your experience.
If there is a gap in your employment because you pursued other opportunities, faced an illness, or encountered various obstacles to employment, think about how you will discuss unemployment or employment changes in a positive way. Explain how your experiences make you the right person for the job. For example:
I was unemployed for 4 months because of a health issue. During this period, I developed skills and systems to make sure I am not overextending myself in my personal life so I stay healthy and strong. Further, through this experience, I bolstered my resilience, gained empathy for others, and gained appreciation for having the energy and ability to work. I think it makes me a more committed and engaged employee.
Q8: What is your dream job?
Q9: Why are you leaving your current job?
Q10: Where do you want to be 5 years from now?
Employers know you will probably not be a lifetime employee, but they want to believe you will stay for a reasonable amount of time. They also want to see that you are motivated. Give some thought as to how you will answer these questions to show you have considered your professional goals. You don’t want to think on the fly and bluster through your professional goals during an interview.
Q11: How would you describe your ideal work environment?
Consider the place you are applying for work. If you are interviewing for a fast-food position, do not talk about your desire to have a quiet and calm desk-job.
Q12: Tell me about a time you made a mistake and how you handled it.
Q13: Tell me about a time you did not get along with a coworker or supervisor.
Employers are interested in hearing how you positively addressed uncomfortable situations. Share examples that demonstrate you reflect on situations and proactively solve them. Here is an example.
My wages at Claire’s Boutique were based on commission sales. When I first started, I was committed to making the sale and serving customers efficiently. This made coworkers distant towards me because they thought I was taking business away from them. I decided to ask my coworkers how they had dealt with customers in the past, and I learned that we serve customers on a revolving basis, not on our availability. This experience made me aware of the need to understand the culture of the position, and to keep communication lines open.
Q14: What are your strengths?
Q15: What are your weakness?
Sharing honest and thoughtful answers is best; employers know when they are being fed a line. For example, when asked to share a weakness, stating you “work too hard and care too much” is not a helpful response and shows a lack of self-reflection.
Q16: Do you have any questions for me?
Ending an interview by asking thoughtful well-informed questions is another way to leave your potential employer with a positive impression of you. We will discuss questions you can ask in a future blog post; stay tuned!