The absolute best thing you can do to prepare for a job interview is to practice your answers to the questions you’re most likely to be asked.
Saying your answers out loud over and over—or even writing them down, which might ingrain them more deeply in your brain—will significantly improve how well you perform when you’re sitting in that interview chair.
Here are the 10 questions you’re most likely to be asked in a job interview:
1. Tell me about yourself. (No idea how to answer this? See these suggestions.)
2. What interests you about this opening? (Or why do you want to work for us?)
[See: The 100 Best Jobs]
3. What do you know about our company so far?
4. Why did you leave your last job? (Or why are you thinking about leaving your current job?)
5. Tell me about your experience at ___. (Fill in past job.)
6. What experience do you have doing ____? (Fill in each of the major responsibilities of the job.)
7. Tell me about your strengths.
8. Tell me about a time when… (Fill in with situations relevant to the position. For instance: Tell me about when you had to take initiative … you had to deal with a difficult customer … you had to respond to a crisis … you had to give difficult feedback to an employee … You get the idea.)
9. What salary range are you looking for? (See these suggestions for answering questions about salary.)
10. What questions do you have for me? (You can find ideas for your own questions here.)
Still have more time to practice? Bonus points if you practice answers to these additional five questions:
- What’s most important to you in a new position?
- How does this position fit in with the career path you envision for yourself?
- What has been your biggest professional achievement?
- If I spoke with your previous boss, what in which areas would he or she say you need improvement?
- What are the first five things you would do if you got this position?
Remember, rehearse your answers out loud. Practice saying them over and over and over, until your answers fly off your tongue automatically.
The more you practice, the better you’ll get and the more comfortable you’ll feel. And most importantly, if you do this, you will see a significant improvement in your interview experience.
Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She's also the author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Leader's Guide to Getting Results and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development. She now teaches other managers how to manage for results.