Monday, August 22, 2011

Most Commonly Asked Interview Questions

Recently I came across a list of the most common interview questions for fashion industry jobs.  Not surprisingly, these questions are ones that are typically asked in any job interview (and even in some label meetings), regardless of the industry.  But what was even more interesting about this posting was the breakdown of which of these questions candidates hated the most, and which ones candidates had the most difficulty answering. 

The top three most common questions interviewers ask are:
  • "Tell me about yourself."
  • "Why do you want to work for us?"
  • "Do you have any questions for us?"
The top three questions that candidates hate the most are:
  • "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"
  • "What is your greatest failure?"
  • "What would you consider your greatest weakness?"
The top three questions that hiring managers indicated were the ones job seekers have the most difficulty answering are:
  • "What is your greatest failure?"
  • "What would you consider your greatest weakness?"
  • "Do you have any questions for us?"
While I discuss in detail specifically how to answer these kinds of interview questions in my book Advance Your Image and in my presentations, there are a few common things to remember that will help any job seeker answer all of these questions in addition to other commonly asked interview questions (click here to see the full list of questions from the online survey): 
  • Know who you are and what you want!  This requires self-assessment and self-reflection, and being honest with yourself about what you want from a job, what you have to offer, and where you need to improve.
  • Understand why certain questions are being asked.  If you take the time to put yourself in the interviewer's shoes, you will have a better understanding of why they have to ask certain questions, and therefore you will be able to better provide an answer to those questions.  A lot of people hate the question "What are your greatest weaknesses?"  But if you understand that this question is usually being asked in order for the company to know where you might need some support or additional training if you are hired instead of trying to trick you or to make you look bad, then you will be less nervous about answering this question and will be able to provide a more solid answer.  (To know specifically how to approach answering this question, check out my book on Amazon.)
  • Do your research!  I stress this so much in my book and in my presentations because this is the only way you will be able to give good answers and a give an overall good interview.  Doing your research will also help you come up with questions of your own to ask in the interview.  Not having appropriate questions of your own prepared, regardless of how good your answers are to the interviewer's questions, can immediately take you out of the running!  You will find a list of sample questions you can and should ask in an interview in the appendix of my book.
  • Give examples.  Never speak in generalities in an interview.  No matter what you're being asked, always try to answer in specifics by providing examples to illustrate your point.  Those examples should be ones of your past work and past accomplishments.  When discussing your skills, always tell about a time when you've demonstrated those skills.  Take it a step further by using a professional portfolio in the interview to provide a visual and tangible example of your skills and abilities.  To know what a professional portfolio is, what to include in it, and how to present it in an interview, check out one of my past blogs on this topic: "Show 'N Tell: Designing and Presenting a Professional Portfolio"
Once you've done these things to prepare for upcoming interviews, the next step is to get a critique of a mock interview so that you can know what you're doing well and what you're doing wrong and how to correct it.  This is just one of the many services I provide my clients, and probably one of the most helpful.  I have years of experience doing both mock job interviews and mock media interviews, whichever is your need.  Feel free to contact me today at to set up an hour session for a mock interview (either in person or via Skype).  It's always better to screw up in front of someone who can help you improve than in front of the person making the final hiring decision!

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