Six Questions You Must Be Prepared to Answer During Your Next Job Interview by Patricia Erickson

If you're interested in acing your next interview, read on.

1. What can you tell me about yourself?

Approach this question as it relates to the job for which you are applying. Develop a 30-60 second personal branding statement that touches on your work history, your education, and briefly highlights your accomplishments. Practice this a bit - if you're going for a sales or client facing job, the employer wants to make sure you're more than just a capable communicator.

2. What are your greatest strengths?

For this particular question, you're going to want to provide tangible skills. Don't waste your time or the employer's with "I'm really a great team player or I have excellent communication skills." Instead, describe your ability to bring new clients on board or talk about your knack for increasing sales even in highly competitive markets. Here's an example, "while I was in a sales internship with ABC Company, I increased sales by 29 percent in March and had the highest sales in the department five months in a row."

3. Tell me about your weaknesses?

I remember an old boss of mine once told me right before a routine corporate audit that I should just answer the question. What that meant was volunteering no additional information. I've used that strategy on more than one occasion and it has worked well for me. In this case, do the same. A good tactic is to talk about a weakness you had and show have since worked it out. "There was a time when I was a bit impatient with coworkers who weren't able to complete their work by the required deadline. I have come to realize that my personal standards and expectations are different from my coworkers and it is no longer an issue for me." Remember, you don't have to mention your every quirk, tic, or foible.

4. What are you looking for in terms of salary?

If you are in the first job interview with this company, you probably don't have a clear sense of what the job entails yet. At this point, defer by saying, "I don't have enough information about the job yet; what are your expectations in the first 90 days? 6 months?" Another approach is to ask if the employer has a range in mind for the position. As a last resort, you may decide to give the employer a broad range based on past salary, bonuses, and other benefits.

5. Why did you leave your last job?

There are all kinds of reasons for leaving a company, however, you really need to be truthful with your answer. That said, you should carefully craft your answer to ensure it is appropriate. If your company downsized, mention it. If you made it through seven rounds of downsizing and were one of the last to go, by all means mention that too! Maybe you did everything you set out to do with your company and there was no real room to grow. Then, "it was time for me to find a new position where I could enhance my skills and continue to grow."

6. Why you? What do you bring to this job that no one else does?

If you want to show your prospective employer how great you are at sales, now is the time to show them what you've got! Formulate your answer as it relates to their job requirements and clearly demonstrate how your expertise is a perfect match for their every need.

Do your homework and be well prepared for your next interview. If you can answer these six questions easily, you're on your way to landing your dream job!

Patricia Erickson is a certified professional resume writer and career coach who helps clients focus on making great impressions, getting interviews, and finding dream jobs. She works with her clients to craft high impact resumes and execute step by step plans that get them in the door and hired. Before your next interview, be sure to claim your FREE Interview Fitness Toolkit, visit Patricia's site at A Vita Career Management Experts

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