I have recently helped some friends prepare for job interviews and it served as a reminder of how important the prep work is ahead of an interview. In the past, I’ve hired a few people and currently, I also sit on panel interviews for open positions in my team, so I’ve seen my fair share of interviews. One thing that strikes me is that I still see people coming unprepared, for questions that I consider basics. When it comes to behavioural interview questions, there is a handful that will most likely come up no matter the position or the industry. And your one job is to show up prepared.
I remember the time when I was interviewing most recently, and I had a massive doc with stories I’d prepared to answer all types of questions. For me, preparation is always key and I like to walk the talk in that sense. Sure, there might still be some questions you cannot prepare for, but once you have your bases covered and a few stories in your pocket, you can spin them on the spot to tackle different angles. Which is the point of the prep anyways, so that you can be your most confident and relaxed self during the interview.
With that said, here are the top 5 stories to prepare for your next work interview:
Tell me about a time you failed
The key to answering this one is to end it with a learning and show that you are able to own your mistakes. Not only that but you can also reflect on them and learn from them so you don’t repeat them again. Never blame it on others and try to stay true to yourself.
What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses
I mean this one is textbook style. You gotta know your top 3 of each and be ready for it. One more thing here, when we talk weaknesses, pick something strategically. Don’t blame it all on your “perfectionism” because that is not the way to approach this question. Pick an honest yet strategic work weakness (and not a character trait) that doesn’t make you look like you can’t do the job well, and show how you work to improve on it.
Tell me about a project that you’re proud of
This is code name for what is your greatest achievement and is a question meant to make you shine and where you show your strengths. But it’s also a question that can show them what you value, so make sure that whichever success you pick you still stay humble and true to yourself.
Walk me through a situation where you showcased leadership skills
Need I say more about this one? The answer to this question should show where you stand in terms of taking ownership, responsibility, and organizing yourself and others. Depending on the type of job you are interviewing for this answer needs to be more or less refined.
Tell me about a time you had to work with a difficult person
Another option for this type of question is a time when you received negative feedback. The point of these questions is to show them how you deal with adversity, or with a situation where things don’t go your way. In these cases, do not blame it on others. Own your part and instead highlight your communication or problem-solving skills that helped you get out of it.
These questions are the bread and butter of interviews and spending the time to come up with structured stories where you showcase your skills but also your ability to deal with adverse situations, learn and reflect, is the best way to show up prepared at interviews. Make sure you prepare these 5 stories for your next work interview, and you will be ready to pass to the next round.
If you want more help for your interviews, I also put together a 40+ pages Interview Prep Guide that you can find on Etsy.