1. Tell us about yourself. Good answer: “I’m really energetic, and a great communicator. Working in sales for two years helped me build confidence, and taught me the importance of customer loyalty. I’ve also got a track record of success. In my last role, I launched a company newsletter, which helped us build on our existing relationships and create new ones. Because of this, we ended up seeing a revenue increase of 10% over two years. I’m also really interested in how companies can use web tools to better market themselves, and would be committed to building on your existing platform. This is especially important as the government moves into more Web 2.0 initiatives.” 2. Where do you see yourself in five years? Good answer: “In five years I’d like to have an even better understanding of how this agency works. Also, I really love working with people. Ultimately, I’d like to be in some type of managerial role at this agency, where I can use my people skills and department knowledge to benefit the people working for me, and the agency as a whole." 3. What’s your greatest weakness? Good answer: “I’ve never been very comfortable with public speaking – which as you know, can be a hindrance in the workplace. Realizing this was a problem, I asked my previous employer if I could enroll in a speech workshop. He said “yes.” I took the class, and was able to overcome my lifelong fear. Since then, I’ve given lots of presentations to audiences of over a 100 high level executives – I still don’t love it, but no one else can tell!” 4. What salary are you looking for? Good answer: “I’m more interested in the role itself than the pay. That said, I’d expect to be paid the appropriate range for this role, based on my five years of experience. I also think a fair salary would bear in mind the high cost of living here in New York City. Further, I think my education and background can make me at the highest Step in my Grade.” 5. Why should I hire you? Good answer: “I’ve been an Executive Assistant for the past ten years – my boss has said time and time again that without me, the organization would fall apart. I’ve also taken the time to educate myself on some of the software I regularly use (but didn’t really understand the ins and outs of). I’m an Excel wiz now, which means I can work faster, and take over some of what my boss would traditionally have had to do himself. What’s good enough for most people is never really good enough for me.” 6. What is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it? Good answer: “When I was in college, I took an art class to supplement my curriculum. I didn’t take it very seriously, and assumed that, compared to my Engineering classes, it would be a walk in the park. My failing grades at midterm showed me otherwise. I’d even jeopardized my scholarship status. I knew I had to get my act together. I spent the rest of the semester making up for it, ended up getting a decent grade in the class. I learned that no matter what I’m doing, I should strive to do it to the best of my ability. Otherwise, it’s not worth doing at all.” 1. "Tell me about yourself." Let’s start off nice and easy with this seemingly innocuous question. It’s tricky – be too general and you’ll appear vague or safe, be too detailed and you might throw the interview off-track. With a question like this, your best bet is to be fully prepared with your answer way before the interview, since you know there’s a good chance it’ll be on the roster of questions. “Highlight your strengths and leadership attributes and value you can bring to the company,” says Coach LA. Key tips: Prepare your elevator pitch: In about 30 seconds, who you are, what you’re passionate about, what kind of role you’re seeking. “This should be about you and highlights of your career or student life and interests,” says Coach LA. “And it shouldn't be about how old you are and who your parents are, please!” Don't stray. HR practitioner John Bondoc says it’s important to keep your answer to that focused on the role. “Discuss info about you that matches the post you are being considered,” he suggests. Here’s an example from Jonathan to consider. "Im a passionate gogetter who wants to make a dent on the universe. I hope to achieve that through this company, and I do (state your role).” 2. "What's your greatest weakness?" This was one of the more popular questions raised real-time. Talking about a weakness is tricky. The safe route might be to go with something completely inoffensive – like the cliche “I’m a perfectionist, I have to get it right all the time!” Recruiters know when you answer the question by picking a strength and downplaying it into a weakness, or picking a textbook "weakness." Call a spade a spade, and describe a true opportunity area. Sincerity plays a key role here. Really think about what you need to improve on, identify how you’re getting over it, and if that paved the way for some other skill to be developed. One might say, for example, that he isn’t a great listener – but discovering that led him to be more conscientious asking for feedback. “Be honest, not generic, to stand out,” says Kash Shaikh, founder of the Be Somebody movement, a call to action to go out and chase your passion. Key tips: Be honest. A good answer to this question comes from a place of selfawareness. “Specify an event that happens consistently. For example, too emotional, unable to meet deadlines,” suggests Jonathan. “But also say you have resolved it. You realized the impact and have recognized the problem.” No humblebrags (“I’m tired of winning all the time”)! It doesn’t work. 3. "Why should we NOT hire you?" Jonathan, LA, and I were surprised that this was one of the most common questions that popped up in this conversation. It’s likely an attempt to gauge how well you react to an unforeseen question. “We usually ask ‘Why we should hire you?’ and not the other way around,” says Coach LA. “Maybe the interviewer just wants to see how quickly the candidate can think on his feet.” Key tips: Do not allow questions like these to throw you off – that’s what they’re designed to do. Here are two strategies to attack this question: o Answer the question. Coach LA says you can bring up a few things that might cause employers to think twice, like lack of experience – then countering that with a good quality, like being willing to learn. OR: o Challenge and counter. “I would challenge him and say “I prefer to talk about positive things such as my strengths and how they can add value to the company,” says Jonathan. Said nicely, this might express that you aren’t easily intimidated and are focused and engaged. 4. "What's your impression of me?" This does feel like another question designed to rattle, doesn’t it? Don’t shrink away. Understand – this isn’t personal. It's not the best question to ask a prospect, either, but again, they might be looking to observe your reaction. Key tips: Stick to observations. Instead of going for adjectives, opt for objective things that you observed instead. “Talk about impressions on confidence, choice of words of the boss,” writes Jonathan on Twitter. “Be constructive and not judgmental in tone.” Take a moment. Caught off guard by this or any other question? Resist the urge to speak first, thinking as you talk. Take a few seconds to compose yourself – you may come up with a passable answer in that time. 5. "What will you do if you don't get this job?" This was another question that popped up during the conversation, and I imagine it would be quite intimidating to answer this, almost as if one were already anticipating a rejection. Just as in the last two questions, remain unfazed – this isn't personal, and it's unlikely to be an indication that you won't get it. "Show that you have a plan B and that you will continue to pursue other opportunities for growth," writes Coach LA on Twitter. The key here seems to be to show both passion and persistence – that you know that you are interested in the field and the industry (not just in that particular company) and that you will keep trying even if you aren't selected the first time. 6. "How long do you intend to stay?" Don’t be pressured into giving an exact time period. You aren’t getting any assurances or signed deals immediately in this interview – its very nature is exploratory! So don’t feel like you need to commit a hard answer. Here’s a great answer from Jonathan, tweeted during the conversation: “I intend to stay as long as I’m engaged and productive with my job, boss and company.” Short and sweet. Direct, confident, and thorough. 7. "What can you offer as a fresh grad?" You may not have much experience, but it doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer. “The youth are energetic, more optimistic, more tech-savvy and creative. They will do beyond ordinary means to get something done. These are qualities that make fresh grads an important asset for the company. You cant easily get that from other generations,” says Jonathan. Age shouldn’t obscure value. Skills in navigating social media and new apps, for example, may come naturally to the younger set. If this is true for you, take the extra effort to learn a little more, and you’ll have something to bring to a working world that’s evolving daily at an incredible speed. 8. “What would make you resign from a company?" Just say it straight, without the bells and whistles. It’s intimidating to talk about things that will make you leave when you’re interviewing for a job you really want. But being able to do so eloquently shows a company what you really value – and it’s also good for you to know about these dealbreakers yourself. Just a few examples from Jonathan: “A bad boss, a company that doesnt value talent development, and a culture of inciting fear versus rewards to make people work hard.” Coach LA says, “Limited to no career growth/learning will be factors for me to consider leaving the company. This shows your hunger to continuously grow and develop as a professional." Key tips: Reapply. What were your key successes back when you were in school? Did you pull off a big event, use social media to raise money, run an organization? Soft skills learned here hold water in the working world. It’s up to you to draw those parallels and show the interviewer what you might be able to do for the company. Specificity is key. When discussing projects you’ve done in the past, make sure you discuss concrete results – pesos earned, followers gained, pageviews racked up. the more specific you are, the more convincing the argument. 9. "Do you have any questions for me?" Before going into how to answer this question, here’s an important fact. Never say “no” when you are asked this question. “There's no doubt candidates who ask questions have a better chance at landing their dream job,” writes Jerome Ternynck, founder and CEO of SmartRecruiters, on Inc.com. In that article, he shares the best questions he’s heard from prospective employees, including “What role will I fill?” and a follow-up, “Why does this role matter to the growth of the company?” Don’t ask the question for the sake of filling in that dead air. There must be something you really would like to know. Is this role old or new? What’s the company doing differently than others? What’s the company’s stance on an important issue that directly impacts them? Here are a few examples from Jonathan: ”How big is the team / Who do I report to?” This gives you an idea of your boss's work scope and resources. “If I succeed in this role, what is the career path I can take (managerial role, assignment to a different country for international exposure, etc)? “What is expected of me in my first 90 days?” “Why was this role vacated?” “What is the company culture?” Aside from all this, you should be ready to describe situations in your working or student life, including your proudest achievement, a time you disagreed with your teammates, the biggest challenge you encountered in a project, et cetera. In these cases, establish the necessary backstory, briefly say what you did, and most importantly (linger here) – discuss the results. Keep the energy up – the interviewer will sense tension and nerves (a wet handshake, a too-soft voice, for example) and that might set the tone. The conversation should flow between two people, so embrace spontaneous moments – the bits where humor and lightness peek through.