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Prepare for Your Interview: Tips and Common Interview Questions and Answers

prepare for interview with these tips and questions

You’ve landed a job interview, but are not looking forward to it. Oftentimes, job interviews can be extremely daunting and stressful to prepare for. Fear of the unknown in an interview can fill us with a lot of anxious thoughts. Here are some tips and sample questions to help you nail the interview. 

Top Three Interview Tips

  • Interview Tip #1: First thing is first: Know the type of interview you’ll be going into, whether that be a phone call, video call–such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet– or if you will have an in-person experience. If you are unsure, clarify with the company via a phone call or email. If they provide the names of the interviewer(s), look up their background online and note anything you have in common.
  • Interview Tip #2: Prepare! What makes a great interview is being fully prepared. You can prepare by reading the job description, researching the company or organization to gather details and insight about their history, values, required job skills, etc., and note any questions you’d like answered during the interview. It’s also a great idea to know your resume!
  • Interview Tip #3: There’s an adage that goes, “Look good, feel good, do good.” Put your best foot forward by looking professional and well-groomed. Wondering what to wear to the interview? Our best advice is to show up in professional attire and with a smile on your face. No matter what type of job you applied for, the best first impressions are with what you show up wearing, which means professional attire is always strongly recommended! If your interview is on a video call, check your lighting and background. Make sure you’re in a place that isn’t too loud or distracting, and free your background of any clutter if possible. 

Common Interview Questions and Answers

When it comes to common interview questions and preparing your best responses, remember to be honest, be yourself, and answer the question to the best of your ability. It’s important not to memorize your answers, but to familiarize yourself with possible questions and scenarios that could be asked. Have confidence and highlight your main points or qualifications.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions during interviews, and our tips on how you might answer them:

Q: Tell me about yourself. 

Tips: Share your name, educational background, past internships or job experiences, biggest achievements or accomplishments, and maybe even some hobbies or passions that could relate to the job position or company. Do not overshare or give your entire life story.

Q: What are your skills?

Tips: Tailor this to the position you’re applying for. Were you a part of a college organization or internship that allowed you to gain and maintain a new skill? Did you work on any past projects that helped you build teamwork, research, or communication skills? 

Q: What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness?

Tips: Your greatest strength should be something you excel at, but should not be something you brag about. Try to stay humble and on topic, and elaborate on why you have this strength. Give a specific example of a time you demonstrated this strength. 

Your greatest weakness is one of the more difficult answers to come up with. Try thinking of a time you had some sort of conflict you had to overcome, and what you might’ve ended up learning from it. How did that weakness help change the way you might do things now? What did it teach you and how are you working on this weakness now?

The key to answering interview questions is to make eye contact and relate to the job position and/or company with context. Utilizing words and phrases that were stated on the website or in the job description is another way to boost your responses because it proves you did your research beforehand and are interested in what they do. Nerves are totally normal but try to use a friendly, calm, and professional tone of voice to show confidence, provide a more inviting environment for your interviewer, and even possibly help ease some of those interview jitters. 

Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions with the S-T-A-R Method

Behavioral Interviewing is a common technique that interviewers often use. Questions are looking for real past examples of how you solved a problem or achieved a goal. Questions will begin with phrases like, “Tell me about a time when…” or “Can you give me an example of a project when…” 

To prepare for these questions, think about how you would frame your answer by using the S-T-A-R method:

S (Situation) – Give a very concise overview of the situation.

T (Task) – What task was required to address the situation?

A (Action) – This is where the bulk of your answer should be. What action(s) did you personally take? You can mention your broader team, but be sure to talk about your role in the story, the ideas you put forth, etc.

R (Result) – Oftentimes interviewers forget this critical piece of the answer. What result was achieved? If you can provide quantifiable results, you are helping your interviewer understand what kind of positive impact they can expect by adding you to their team.  

Here’s a handy list of common behavioral interview questions and sample answers. 

Questions to Ask in an Interview

When the interviewer asks if you have any questions at the end, always ask a couple at minimum. Asking questions shows the interviewer you prepared for the interview and were listening to them throughout, especially when your questions are customized to something that was brought up during the interview. It also allows you to gather more information about the job to later assess whether it’s truly a good fit for you and the company. It’s also nice to put them in the spotlight for a few minutes! 

Here are a couple of questions you could ask your interviewer: 

Are there any opportunities for growth within this role? 

What will be my biggest challenge within this role?

Do you have any reservations about hiring me for this position?

Although an uncomfortable question, it will give you direct feedback about what you did well in the interview, what you might be able to improve on, and even allow you to gauge how your interviewer feels about your qualifications. This question is great for interview growth in the future.

When may I expect to hear from you next? 

When the interview comes to a close, determine any next steps you’ll need to make in the process, thank them for their time, and be sure to get contact information. 

Show Gratitude After the Interview

It might be a good idea to send a thank you email or handwritten note. To do this, simply address your interviewer and let them know you appreciated the interview, valued their time, and are looking forward to hearing from them soon. You could even kindly and gently remind them why you think you’d be a great fit for the position and what you’re most excited about.

JFCS is here to help you alleviate some of the stress involved in job interviews, give you some common interview questions and answers, and leave you with tips on how to make your best impression. We want to ensure that after the interview, you feel refreshed and confident looking back on your answers. 

About JFCS Career Services

JFCS Career Services supports job seekers and employers to create a diverse regional workforce. Have Questions? We’re Here to Help. Contact JFCS Career Services at (412) 422-5627 or visit careerservices@jfcspgh.org.