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50+ most common job interview questions
This question seems simple, so many people fail to prepare for it, but it’s crucial. Heres the deal: Don’t give your complete employment (or personal) history. Instead, give a pitch—one that’s concise and compelling and that shows exactly why you’re the right fit for the job. Muse writer and MIT career counselor Lily Zhang recommends using a present, past, future formula. Talk a little bit about your current role (including the scope and perhaps one big accomplishment), then give some background as to how you got there and experience you have that’s relevant. Finally, segue into why you want—and would be perfect for—this role.
3 How do you plan to achieve your career goals?
Having goals shows interviewers you care, are ambitious, and can think ahead. Having a plan for how you’ll achieve your goals demonstrates your self-motivation as well as organizational and time management skills. Finally, the fact that you’ve accomplished past goals you’ve set for yourself is proof of your ability to follow through. All together, these are indications that you can not only set and achieve goals of your own, but also help your prospective boss, team, and company do the same. To craft your answer, make sure you focus on one or two goals in detail, explain why the goals are meaningful, communicate what milestones are coming up, highlight past successes, and connect back to this job.
Possible answer to “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
“In five years, I’d like to be in a position where I know more about my longer-term career aspirations as a designer. I will have gotten experience working for a design agency and know more about the industry overall. I’ll have grown my technical skills and learned how to take feedback from clients and incorporate it. And the way your agency is set up, I’ll also have gotten the opportunity to design different kinds of deliverables—including websites, branding, and ad campaigns—for different kinds of clients to see where I really feel at home before settling on a focus.”
1 Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
You’re probably not too eager to dig into past blunders when you’re trying to impress an interviewer and land a job. But talking about a mistake and winning someone over aren’t mutually exclusive, Moy says. In fact, if you do it right, it can help you. The key is to be honest without placing blame on other people, then explain what you learned from your mistake and what actions you took to ensure it didn’t happen again. At the end of the day, employers are looking for folks who are self-aware, can take feedback, and care about doing better.
Possible answer to “What are your career aspirations?”
“After growing up in a food desert, my biggest professional aspiration is to help make healthy food more widely available and accessible regardless of where you live. I also love solving complex problems. Currently, as a project manager, I specialize in strategic planning and combine it with a natural ability to engage critical stakeholders—resulting in on-time and under-budget delivery. This role would help me use those skills to work on a mission I’m passionate about. I am determined to use these skills to help your organization guarantee our community has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. In the next five or so years, I would love to take on additional responsibility and be in a decision-making role to drive the mission beyond our community and support even more families in gaining access to nutritious food options.”
Along similar lines, the interviewer wants to uncover whether this position is really in line with your ultimate career goals. While “an NBA star” might get you a few laughs, a better bet is to talk about your goals and ambitions—and why this job will get you closer to them.