Job Interview Practice: Why It’s Important and How to Do It

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One of the most effective ways to prepare for a job interview is practicing your answers to common interview questions. There are many factors to consider when getting ready for an interview, but the words you use and how you structure your answers are important.

In this article, we explore why job interview practice is important and how to prepare for some of the most common interview questions.

Why Interview Practice Is Important

Before we get into details about some of the most common interview questions, here are some quick reasons why practicing for a job interview can be helpful:

Preparing for Common Interview Questions

In the section below, we’ve included some practice interview questions that are likely to come up in any industry.

“Tell me about yourself.”

Many interviews start with some variation of an open-ended statement like “Tell me about yourself.” Make sure to spend some time preparing this opening statement, as it will set the tone for the rest of your answers.

Your goal for this statement is to summarize your career, not to tell your life story. Don’t go into too much detail, as you’ll have opportunities for that later in the interview. Plainly state how the experience and skills you’ve gained in the past have prepared you to succeed in this position in the future.

Also, be careful not to stray too far from the requirements of the position to which you’re applying. You may have a varied background in a lot of industries, and those are all certainly a part of your career story, but try to stay on track by focusing on the connections between your previous work and what the employer is seeking for the position.

Finally, avoid bringing up personal information. There may be appropriate times to talk about your family or your interests outside of work, but those will likely come much later.

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

When interviewing, you will likely be asked to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Describing your strengths is an opportunity to return to the main points you want to hit on about why you’re a strong fit for the position. Talk about your natural abilities, the skills you’ve developed, and the wisdom you’ve gained from previous experience. These can all be considered strengths.

Discussing your strengths is also an excellent opportunity to use examples. It’s one thing to claim that you are a strong salesman, but it’s another to bring up specific sales numbers and describe how you improved upon the work that was done at your organization before you arrived.

When discussing your weaknesses, be honest. Don’t fall into the trap of using clichés like “I work too hard.” After stating your weaknesses, describe what you’re doing to improve. Maybe you’re starting to use new tools to help you stay organized, or maybe you’re reading books to help you develop your skills as a manager. Be prepared to talk about how you’re trying to get better.

Behavior-Based Questions

Most interviewers will also ask behavior-based questions. Answers to these kinds of questions can be helpful to a hiring manager because past behaviors can be good indicators for future performance.

Here are some examples of behavior-based questions often asked in job interviews:

In many cases, interviewers are expecting candidates to use their answers to describe their soft skills like teamwork, communication, conflict management, leadership and more. These are qualities that are difficult to express in a resume, but an interview is a perfect time to try.

When preparing your answers, one popular method for how to structure them is the STAR method. The acronym STAR stands for situation, task, action, result. Remembering these four words when answering a behavior-based question can help you ensure that you’re answering it as completely as possible.

Industry-Specific Questions

Every industry is different, and each organization will have its own interview style and preferences. Here are some articles we’ve found to help you prepare for questions related to specific career fields:

Additional Resources

At CSU, we’re here to help you find your dream job. The CSU Career Services team produces various resources for students and alumni, including a comprehensive manual with even more tips for job interview practice. For more information, visit ColumbiaSouthern.edu.

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