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Tell me a little about yourself

Interviews. We've all had them. Some of us may even like them. Regardless, they are a necessary part of the process in getting hired at a company. Preparing for an interview is essential. We've all heard the line before - research and prepare. I have to say, I have had very companies tell me it was my in-depth knowledge of the company that was the tip-over point to my hiring.

What are some of the most common questions and how should we answer them? Let's take a look at some:

Can you tell me a little about yourself? This is the typical starter question. Designed and intended to have you relax and get used to talking, the one thing you don't want to do is to give them chapter and verse on your life from birth until now. The best way to answer is if you can give them a story that details how you found your current career path and why you're looking to join their company.

What are your strengths and/or weaknesses? This question haunts a lot of people. How do you promote how awesome you are without sounding like a puffed up buffoon? First, figure out what your strengths are and which ones can be directly and measurably used in the position. Write down a list of all of the pros for them. Then you need to practice all the reasons your strengths can be weaknesses. Sounds counter-intuitive I know, but if you're able to flip "hard working" into "I'm a hard worker and I have taken on a lot of work from within my department/team that was not actually part of my job in the past and that caused some confusion/conflict/etc. I met all of my deadlines though and I learned a tremendous amount." Not so "weak" now, is it?

Do you have any questions? In my experience, I hardly ever ask about the company. I ask about the personalities of the people I would report to, or the team organization. The best answer would be one where you ask what you can do between the interview and their decision to improve your chances. It goes without saying that, if you're able to do so, you should do what they suggested in their answer.

Why should we hire you? My answer - because I'm awesome and here's why.... I have actually said that in an interview and I have gotten the job. I find that this question is a redo of the strengths and weaknesses question really.

Now, did you know that more and more companies are throwing zany, wacky and downright weird questions in your interview mix? I mean stuff like:

  • How many golf balls fit in a 747? (22.3 million approximately);

  • If you woke up and had 2,000 unread e-mails and could only answer ### of them, how would you select the ones to answer?;

  • How many people flew out of Chicago last year?; and

  • Who is your favorite Disney Princess?

Definitely do your research - YOU need to know what the company, it's future and the internal company morale is like before you commit. Just be prepared for anything.

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