Not long after you look for a job, you will probably (hopefully) be called for an interview.  Interviews are a great opportunity to expand on your resume and impress a potential employer.  But if you aren’t prepared, your interview can turn into a disaster.  Unfortunately, we’ve all had our share of unsuccessful interviews, but the truth is, the more interviews you do, the easier they become.  Here are a few tips and sample questions to polish up your interview skills and help you land your dream job!

1. Eye contact.  Making and keeping eye contact with the interviewer is crucial.  It shows confidence and focus.

2. Answer every question.  Never answer, “I don’t know…”  Even if you don’t know the answer, say something like, “I don’t know, but looking it up will be the first thing I do when I leave!”

3. Don’t underestimate a good sense of humor.  Interviews don’t have to be so stiff – it’s okay to crack a joke!  It shows personality and that you’re easy going.  Just don’t take it too far – know what’s appropriate and what’s not.

4. Google the company before you go.  Make sure you’re familiar with their style, values, competitors, etc.  Make sure you look at their “about” page to get a feel what the company is all about.

5. Always end with a positive.  No matter what the question is, always end with a positive statement that pertains to why you’re perfect for the job.

And here are a few sample questions:

1. Tell us about yourself.  This is a classic first question.  Keep it light, this will set the pace and tone for the interview.  A brief summary combining your resume, where you came from , your family.  And example would be, “I’m the oldest in the family, which makes me…”   Tie it to a trait that shows why you are good for the job. 

2. What is one of your weaknesses?  Tell the story, and then move them onto the positive.  Do not say, “I have no weaknesses,” Or, “I have never failed.  Everyone says, “I’m a perfectionist.”  Try to stay away from that – it sounds rehearsed and generic.  Something like, “I get too emotionally tied to my work.”  And always end it with, “But I’m working on it.”   This shows that you recognize your weakness, but are willing to improve and change.

3. Why should we hire you?  What makes you better than the other candidates?  Never bash anyone.  Say something like, “I don’t know the other candidates, but I can tell you this: I think I am the best because of experience, skill set, etc.”

4. Have you ever had difficulty getting along with a supervisor?  This is a question that is best to answer honestly.  Tell the story, and most importantly, tell how it was resolved and how it helped you learn.  Again, leave with the positive.

5. You’re in a team of 4, one of your team members isn’t working, what do you do?  A good answer for this would be something like this: First, you talk to the person who is not doing their work.  If that doesn’t work, go to other team members. Then, the other team members talk to the person.  Then and only then, MAYBE you can tell boss.  OR – you can say that you covered for the person that one time.  Employers don’t want to hire someone who can’t solve problems on their own, so saying that you solved the problem yourself is what they want to hear.

6. What concerns do you have for this job?  This is another time where, answering, “None” isn’t okay.  Always answer, even if it is something negative.  You’ll just have to spin it into a positive later on!  Say something like, “I feel like I have a lot of knowledge on the position, but I guess the unknown concerns me.”

7.  How many ping pong balls could you fit in a car?  This sounds crazy, but employers want to know how well you do under pressure, and how well your problem solving abilities are.  Don’t just say, “I don’t know.”  If you literally have no idea, it is okay to say, “You know what, I don’t know, but I am going to look it up!”  Something they’d like to hear is your thought process – saying something like, “Well, I could fit 5 in my hand, so…”

8. Do you have any questions for us?  The 18 year old me said, “nope I think I’m good!”  That is the worst thing you could say!  Employers want to hire someone who asks good questions and is interested.   Here are a few questions that you can ask the interviewer:

1. Is there something you wish you knew when you started? (People love to talk about themselves)

2. You’re launching a new … how is that going?  Show that you are up to date on the company.

3. I was reading such and such, and heard a quote from your CEO… Show that you’ve done your research and are interested in the latest news.