I’ll admit that I think it’s worth it to go a little overboard while preparing for a job or internship interview. If you are getting called in for an interview it means someone at the company has already looked at who you are “on paper” and thought “this could be the person for the job”. It’s your responsibility to prove them right!
While really thorough interview preparation might take a few hours (some resources for that here
) there are three interview questions that hold a lot of weight.
1. Tell me about yourself.
2. Why do you want to work at our company?
3. Why do you want this job? And why would you be good at it?
So let’s dive in!
Tell me about yourself
Interviewers ask this question because it’s a low pressure way to kick off the conversation and also because they genuinely want to learn more about you. While they’ve probably already read your resume, it’s still going to be your job to walk them through it.
People have trouble with this one because it’s fairly open ended. What I liked to hear when I was on the other side of the table would be a person’s “story” – not their life story, but rather the story of what they’ve done, why you’ve done it, and how it’s relevant to the job they’re interviewing for.
This means you need to edit your story to make it compelling to the interviewer. Start at the beginning of your professional journey (generally that’s education) and work your way up to the present moment. Share a bit of detail on each position you’ve held (more detail for the most relevant experience) but keep it brief. End your answer with how you found out about the opportunity you’re interviewing for and why you think it’s a great next step for you.
Your answer should be no longer than three minutes. Remember that your interviewer will ask for more information on what is interesting or important to them and you don’t need to cover every single detail at once.
Why do you want to work at our company?
When I was recruiting this question was really important to me. I didn’t want to hire someone who applied to my company and 1000 other places. I wanted to hire someone who actually cared about working there… and that’s exactly what you want to convey to your interviewer.
There are plenty of good reasons to want to work somewhere: great leadership, a mission you identify with, passion for the products the company sells or the services they provide, the company culture, etc. You can find much of this information on the company’s website, their social media channels, or even a Google news search
(amongst many other options). Once you find something (or multiple things) that make you excited to be at the company, jot them down and be ready to discuss them.
When you’re asked this question in your interview, It’s a great moment to show that you’ve done your research, know your stuff, and are making a thoughtful decision about your next career move.
Why do you want this job? And why would you be good at it?
When I used to ask this question, I wanted candidates to literally tell me why they were interested in the work itself (which you can learn by reading the job posting) and why I should hire them over the many other people I had interviewed.
The key to answering this question well is really, really understanding the job posting. I usually recommend making a chart with the tasks from the job posting on one side, and examples of times when you’ve done relevant tasks on the other side.
Then when you answer the question you can say something like “I know I’ll be a great fit for this job because I saw on the job posting that you’re looking for someone to do X. In my role/volunteer activity/internship at Y, I did [elaborate on the experience and results when you can]”. You can also proactively share some of your strengths that you think would be relevant to the job (i.e. being detail oriented, analytical, or having experience with a certain program or technical skill).
While the rest of the questions in your interview will also be important, solid answers to these 3 questions will help you make a really positive impression on your interviewer. What interview questions do you struggle with? I’d love to cover them in an upcoming post!