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As you prepare for your upcoming job interview, you’re confident that you’ve put together the perfect professional look and have researched the company carefully; you’ve done everything possible to get ready. Personal questions, however, are the interview wild card: what will you be asked about yourself? What are the best ways to present yourself as an ideal employee, and yet not appear fake? Below are four of the most common personal interview questions, together with the best responses and some excellent instructional resources.

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1. Tell me about yourself.

Skip Freeman, on his Personal Branding Blog, warns job seekers to beware of this question; it should not lead you into a meandering biographical monolog. The interviewer does not need to know about your early life, where you grew up, and so forth. Instead, you should be prepared to respond with a laser-focused three-part response: The first part should be a single sentence which encompasses your career history. The second part can be one or two sentences, and should be one single career accomplishment. The third part, also one or two sentences, refers to your future professional goals and it should refer in some way to the job you’re applying for. In Career Mind Mastery: How To Get Your Dream Job,  the instructor presents a “science-based system for interview success focusing on the art of story telling.” This course will help you make your past into a crystal-clear story that you can convey to a potential employer.

2. Why do you want this job?

The most important thing to remember when answering this question is NOT to say anything about the money. Even if a good paycheck is your real reason for applying, it’s not a good idea to mention this because the employer will assume that you’ll leave as soon as something comes along with better pay. The best answer is one that refers to the way in which the job fits in with your personal goals (because no one can argue with them), and you can create a narrative line that gives a compelling reason why you’ll be staying with this job in particular. One great way to be fully prepared is to listen to all the helpful videos in the free How to Prepare for an Interview course.

3. What do you consider to be your greatest personal weakness?

Obviously, you want to avoid any answers that would make you sound irresponsible or unsuited for the job. You also want to display common sense by avoiding any deeply personal answers. Instead, think ahead about a weakness that has no relevance to the job you’re applying for: for example, if you’re applying for a dynamic, customer-contact job you might say that you enjoy being with people so much that you sometimes forget to take enough quiet solitary time to read. Or, if you’re applying for a very sedentary job you could say that you sometimes don’t get quite enough exercise because so much of what you love to do involves sitting down. No matter what weakness you identify, be sure to add that you’re working on improving it. Get insider advice on what employers are looking for in the course Job Search Bootcamp: Get Hired!

4. Why should I hire you (instead of somebody else)?

The main answer to avoid here is any statement that refers to what you want. This is not the place to mention how the job fits into your personal goals. Instead, you should demonstrate a thoughtful self-awareness, and an understanding of how your particular qualities will contribute to the organization. By mentioning the ways in which you’re a good fit for the position, you show that you’ve cared enough to do your homework ahead of time and that you understand your potential employer’s needs. One way to build confidence in presenting your unique strengths is by taking the course Supercharge Your Pitch in 1 Hour,  which will demonstrate how to be convincing and confident as you approach your job interview.

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Page Last Updated: February 2020

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