We’ve all been there: sitting in an interview, meeting with hiring manager after hiring manager, answering questions like a pro. Then, you’re hit with a curveball question. It can feel like hours go by as you scrape through your brain for any bit of information to reply. How did you not think to prepare for this question in your hours of interview prep?
For starters, don’t be so hard on yourself; even the most experienced professionals have flopped on an interview a time or two. Like any Guide to Graduate reader, you probably already know how to prepare for an interview. Do your due diligence on the company, prep a few questions to ask the hiring manager, draft up a thank-you note to send afterward. However, it can also help to have a reply ready for other common interview questions that, when answered in the right way, could land you the job.
Keep reading as the GTG team shares three of the most common interview questions we’ve been seeing pop up today, and how to answer them to set yourself apart from other candidates.
How did you hear about this position?
We know–this one sounds easy. But, if you’re only replying with a one word answer, you’re missing a key opportunity to kick off the interview with a great first impression.
Employers are looking for talent that also jives with the company culture and core mission. Use this question as a chance to show what makes you the perfect fit by sharing a bit of your knowledge of background into the industry, culture, the company and its presence in their arena, that inspired you to apply.
How to reply
Before interviewing, do as much research as you can on the company’s niche, and the major news articles, influencers, and research around it. Take notes, and weave those into your reply to show how a combination of your industry knowledge, passion, and belief in the company’s culture and mission intrigued you.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Oof – even the most seasoned team members at GTG get a jolt of anxiety when asked this. However, that’s not the intention of the question. By sharing your future career goals and your plan to get there, you’re showing the hiring manager that you’re goal oriented, driven, and strategic – all key characteristics employers look for when hiring.
On the flipside, if you simply share that you have no idea where you’ll be in the next five years, you’re essentially telling the employer you don’t have goals or plans, which can indicate a lack of long-term commitment.
How to reply
Before the interview, compile a list of goals you’d like to achieve in the next five years, along with milestones you’d like to reach within that time period to get you there. Next, use those goals to outline a basic response to sharing your five year plan, including your eagerness to achieve those goals at the company you’re interviewing with.
Do you prefer…?
How to reply
This one’s easy: answer honestly. There’s nothing worse than starting a new job only to realize it isn’t the right fit for your working style, culture preferences, or even skillset. Be upfront about your expectations and preferences to ensure it will be a mutually beneficial relationship.
Remember, the goal of an interviewer’s questions are meant to get a better understanding of you, your experience, and your overall fit for the role and company culture. So, if you get stumped, ask a follow up question or two to get back on track. If anything, your interviewer will appreciate your honesty and thoughtfulness in answering their questions.