Are you prepared for your upcoming job interview? If you want to get the job, you need to be prepared. This includes being clear on the basics and how you will answer common job interview questions. While the type of questions asked and interview style will vary depending on the person interviewing you, the company and the job you applied to, the basics typically remain the same. Here is a list of some things you should always know before heading to a job interview.

the basic stuff

1. are you actually interested in this job?

Do you actually want this job or are you taking the interview because it’s the first call you’ve received? Be clear on your intentions going into the interview. Even if the job isn’t your dream job, be prepared to answer why it’s a good fit for you and what aspects of the role you find interesting. If you really can’t think of anything, it might be a sign that this job isn’t the right fit for you.

2. do you understand the job and requirements?

Be clear on what’s expected of you, should you accept the role. Read the job description prior to the interview so it’s fresh in your mind. Do you meet all the job requirements? If not, how will you address any of your shortcomings in the interview?

3. what do you know about the company?

The more you learn about the company, the better. Do your research. Read the company website, check them out on social media, read reviews about the company, see if they’ve been in the news recently. Try to get a sense of the company culture, direction, and how you would fit in. If you can speak about the company with authority, you’ll seem more invested in the opportunity. Most employers value enthusiasm in potential hires.

4. what salary will you ask for?

Know your worth. Research the average salary for the role you are applying for. Account for your location, as well as factors such as your years of experience, special skills, and everything else you bring to the table. Try to be somewhat flexible in your salary requirements. It’s best to prepare a range of about $5-10k. The lowest number in your range should be around what you hope your final salary will be. Check out our salary calculator if you need help pinpointing the salary you should ask for.

5. what are your deal breakers?

What do you absolutely need to feel good about accepting a job offer? For example, maybe flexibility is really important to you. You could ask for the ability to set your own hours, or opportunities to work from home. Or perhaps you expect to have health and dental coverage or a certain number of vacation days. Whatever it is you expect to see in the job offer, be clear on the things that matter to you, and be ready to communicate them.

6. what questions will you ask the interviewer?

Always ask the interviewer at least one question. Most interviewers will ask you if you have any questions at the end of the interview. Having no questions can come off as disinterested, so to avoid that, prepare a series of questions about the role, company, and culture. Have a few options in case your question is answered during the course of the interview. Make sure your questions are thoughtful and targeted to the specific role.  

7. answers to common interview questions

There is certain information all potential employers want to know about you as a candidate. This is why you can expect to hear some common questions in most job interviews. Be prepared to answer these (or very similar) questions.

8. tell me about yourself

Who are you personally and professionally? You should be able to answer this question in a focused and succinct way that summarizes who you are. Check out our article on answering this question in more detail.

9. why are you the right candidate?

This is your opportunity to differentiate yourself from other candidates. Explain how your skills/experience can help the organization.

10. your strengths and weaknesses

We all have them. Know your core strengths, as well as areas you could stand to improve. Think about them within the context of the job you’re interviewing for. Need help discussing your weaknesses in a productive way? Check out our guide to talking about weaknesses in an interview setting.

11. your career goals or 5-year plan

What does the future hold for you? Do you want to move into management? Are there certain professional accomplishments you want to achieve? Do you want to add additional skills, training, and certifications? Have an idea of where your career is headed and how this potential role fits into your plan.

12. why are you leaving your current job?

Avoid speaking poorly of your current employer when answering this question. Even if you don’t like your boss or have issues with the company, focus on the positive. Focus on answers related to wanting to take a new step in your career and broadening your experience.

13. discuss a conflict you had at work

We all experience stressful times at work. What’s most important is how we handle these situations. Behavioural interview questions where interviewers ask you to talk about a specific experience have become common. Discussing conflict is one of the most common behavioural interview questions (and also one of the most difficult to answer) so preparing an example of a situation where conflict arose and you handled it well ensures you aren’t caught off guard and unable to answer.

You can never be too prepared for a job interview. The tips above will help you master the basics. If you put the time and effort into preparation, you’ll perform your best come interview time.

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