Top Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Wednesday, November 01, 2023
Top Interview Questions How To Answer

We all know that when it comes time for you to sit down, smile, and begin an interview can be nerve-wracking, stressful, and overall something to avoid. At least, that’s the gut reaction to even a whiff of the idea. But there are ways that you can reduce your anxiety before an interview. One great way is just to know what to expect. Whether it’s an interview for college, an internship, or your first job, you’re bound to run into some of the same questions and you can be prepared with how to answer them.

Don’t be afraid to practice your answers beforehand. While you don’t want to speak from a rehearsed script, it is smart to have mental bullet points on topics you’d like to discuss in response to each of these questions. Have a friend or family member run a mock interview with you so you can practice these interview questions and answers in real time, out loud, instead of just in your head.

The most common interview questions are all going to be about you and your strengths, so you need to be prepared to sell yourself in a way that isn’t cheesy. Take some time to think about what makes you unique and remember that these interviews are an opportunity for the college or employer to get a better sense of who you are, so there is no “right” answer.

Here are some of the top interview questions so you can be prepared and confident:


Tell me about yourself

Though it isn’t a question, it is a very common request in an interview. Given that this prompt is very open-ended and unspecific, it can be difficult to know how to respond. While it’s important to highlight the traits that make you right for this particular job or college, you should also use this as an opportunity to give the interviewer a better sense of your personality. Spend some time highlighting where you’re from, your hobbies, and what makes you you. These first impression responses will help establish a good, trustworthy connection between you and the person who is interviewing you. 


What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Everyone goes into an interview prepared to highlight their strengths, but have you thought about what your weaknesses are? Know your strengths, but also know how and in what ways you can improve. If your response is that you have no weaknesses, the interviewer may think you are cocky, naive, or lacking self-awareness. Being aware of your weaknesses can actually be quite positive. It displays a healthy sense of self awareness as well as honesty and a willingness to learn from previous weaknesses. Every interviewer is looking for someone willing to grow into the position. 


Why are you interested in this college/internship/job?

Your interviewer ultimately wants to make sure that you are the right fit for their college/internship/job, so they’ll want to know what have you excited about it. This is an opportunity to connect with the interviewer, so be prepared with specific reasons that highlight why you’re interested in their position or university. This requires a healthy dose of research beforehand. Maybe visit their website or social media page and prepare some reasons why you are interested in this particular position. Highlight a handful of things you noticed that you responded positively to on their page. 


Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

Employers and college admissions staff want to know that you are a driven and motivated student. Have a clear view of where you see your career going and how you are going to get there. This does not have to be a 1:1 description of your future. Nobody can predict outright. But your employer is mainly interested on what long term career and life goals you might have. This show mature insight and self knowledge. 


What can you contribute to our campus/workplace?

As stated beforehand, be sure to do your research on the school or company and know where your strengths will be most beneficial to them. Be confident in your abilities and the ways that your skills could improve their campus or workplace. These qualities may not be exactly what they need in the job, but they will be glad to find out more about you by what you are capable of. As they say, actions do speak louder than words. 


What do you like to do for fun?

While dedication to your studies is important, universities and future employers also want to know that you’re a well-rounded person. Knowing about your hobbies and passions can better help the interviewer understand you and make a decision about whether or not you are a good fit for their campus/office. This does not have to be a very long list, but think of a few healthy hobbies or interests beforehand to bring up when the time comes. Not only will this display a well rounded person, but you and your interviewer might find something such as soccer or movies to bond over and that will help lessen your nerves in the long run. 


What’s your opinion on________?

Have at least a general idea of what is going on in the world before your interview, particularly if your intended major or job is related to current events. It’s possible that your interviewer will ask you something topical to gauge your political interests and see that you care about the world around you.


Do you have any questions for me?

Finally, make sure you bring some questions of your own. The interviewer wants to see that you’re interested in their school or workplace, and you can demonstrate this by bringing up insightful questions about their institution.

If you’re asking yourself about how to answer interview questions, you’re on the right track. Above all else, be sincere and honest in your interview. It will be very apparent to the person interviewing you if you’re saying things only to impress them. The interviewer is most likely looking for someone self assured, and your preparedness will go along way to answer that question for them. Being honest and open can show humility and a good personality. So, just breathe, be yourself, and you’re sure to succeed!


For more insights on how to answer common interview questions, check out this series of short videos by Give A Grad A Go.

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