Top Interview Questions
Whether you are preparing for your first interview or you have done more than you can count, preparation is key. If this is your first interview with the company or you have been through many, there may be common interview questions asked. Regardless of the position you are interviewing for, the following interview questions and answers will ensure you are on the right track. Whether the role is for a teacher, nurse, data analyst or project manager, the upcoming information will teach you all you need to know.
“Your responses to the questions asked in the interview only account for about 30% of the chance you will be hired” said Jordie Kern in our interview with the 7 Eagle Group. The other factors such as arriving on time, your professionalism, your interpersonal skills, if you express how much you want the position, if you show you will be a good fit for the team, etc. are far more important.
Top Interview Questions and Advice
Each interview is unique and it is nearly impossible to predict what questions you will receive. There are, however, several questions that are commonly asked in interviews. They may be asked in different ways but the main idea is there. Below you will find the top interview questions in no particular order:
1. Tell Me About Yourself.
This is a question you will receive guaranteed, and it sets the tone for the rest of the interview. It may not be worded this exact way, however, sharing personal and professional information is necessary. The interviewer wants to know what got you interested in the position and what experience you have. With any job interview, you have to be ready for the tough questions. It is important that you remain calm and composed and not let an unexpected question rattle you.
When it comes to answering this question, you have to start by thinking back through your career and life. You want to be able to describe the events in a way that shows you setting and achieving goals. If you are early in your career, this story might start back in high school. If you have served many years in the military, you might start by describing some of the things you wanted to achieve in your military career and then discuss how you achieved them. This can be much easier when you review your career experience as a story. When you get asked this question, this is the time to tell your story the way you want it to be heard.
2. Give an Example of a Significant Accomplishment.
The interviewer would first like to know what you deem as a significant accomplishment. Also, they want to know what you had to go through to achieve this. Describing the most significant achievement of your career tells your interviewer a host of information. It tells them how you categorize your achievement. Are you saying that you are just an awesome talented person? Or do you say that you work hard and have a can-do attitude? Explain how this mentality helped you face adversity that got you to the completion of the project. Do you take all the credit to make yourself look good or were you working with a team? Interviewers like team players so they can better understand how you would fit at the company. Make sure to include what you did and help the interviewer understand how and why your achievement is a big deal.
As a veteran, you know you cannot perform a mission alone. Your answer needs to be well thought out, and while you shouldn’t sound like a recording, you should have a well rehearsed answer ready to go at your interview. If you are unsure which accomplishment to talk about, check out our article, How to Identify my Accomplishments. Think back at the jobs you’ve had in the past and pick an accomplishment that will translate well to the job you’re applying for. Look at the job posting again for help in narrowing in on the specific keywords they’re looking for. Make sure that the success you talk about has a measurable component. How did you add value to your company with your success? This is especially important when you are changing career fields, as many transitioning veterans are.
3. What is Your Greatest Weakness?
This is one question you should definitely be prepared to answer without coming across as stumped or evasive. It may also be seen as if there’s anything you feel that you need to improve, or the hardest part of your last job. However the question comes up, the bottom line is figuring out how to answer without causing them to drop you from consideration. No one wants to share their worst traits with someone they are trying to impress. Interviewers ask this question because they want to know whether you’re self-aware of your own limitations, honest, a reasonably good fit for the job, and capable of improving when necessary.
Everyone has weaknesses. Be positive, but failing to admit a real weakness could come across as dishonest or arrogant. The best way to answer this question is to choose a personal weakness that you had to work hard to overcome. You may find it helpful to work backwards when formulating an answer for this strategy. Ask yourself what you’ve spent the most time working to improve on since you started your career. If discussing your least favorite trait seems too personal, you may have an easier time discussing the ways in which you are less qualified than you would like to be. Perhaps you fail to meet one of the minimum qualifications listed in the original job posting. Now is a good time to formulate a proactive response as to how you would improve this deficiency. Be honest with the interviewer about the ways in which your strengths are not adequately reflected on paper. Explain what you are doing to improve in order to do the job without these formal prerequisites.
4. Give an Example of a Time You Failed.
Interviewers know that no one is perfect, they expect you to have a failure or set back in your career. This question is one of the biggest reasons why practicing your answers to key interview questions is so important. They ask to understand more about you as an employee and a person. They want to know how you handle failure. Also, if you are self-aware to know that you have failed and take responsibility for it. The interviewer wants to know how that one failure taught you how to make sure you were successful on later projects. Being able to think of a good failure in the moment is incredibly difficult, but to then describe it in a fair and honest manner is even more so.
The failure you pick is important. Being able to seriously talk about a failure shows the interviewer that you have grown since your mistake. Having a good answer for this question shows your integrity, that you can own up to prior mistakes without being defensive. Spend most of your interview time discussing what you learned, not the failure itself. Oftentimes, team failures are a good failure to pick. That way the failure can lay at the feet of many, rather than just you, but don’t blame it all on the team. Discussing the lessons learned from your failure and how you’ve put them to use since then ends the questions on a positive note with the interviewer.
5. How Do You Work as a Member of a Team?
Many of today’s HR professionals, recruiters and hiring managers have been trained to ask behavioral questions. This allows them to get a better sense of a candidate’s competencies rather than more direct questions that ask them to speculate. The interviewer is looking for an indication that you have learned something from the experiences you have been involved with. Also, your ability to apply those lessons in new settings.
This is a great question to receive as a veteran. Emphasize the skills you learned in the military. In a Harvard Business Review article titled, What Companies Can Learn From Military Teams, talks about the lessons of military team-building. As well as the importance of their transferability to the workforce. Teamwork is clearly essential regardless of which branch of service veterans have been involved with. The ability to work well with team members has a direct impact on military safety. If asked this question regarding your ability, and comfort level, with working on a team, take advantage of the opportunity. Reinforce how your military career has provided you with specific team-building skills above and beyond what other applicants may have experienced.
6. How Do You Lead Others?
When asking this question, the interviewer is curious to understand your leadership style. In the military, of course, leadership is critical. Successful leadership can mean the difference between a successful mission and the loss of lives.
Regardless of whether or not you’ve ever held a leadership role, chances are good that you’ve been led by others. Consider your own preferences in leaders and the skills you’ve seen in those you’ve reported for or served under. One important aspect of leadership is being flexible in leadership style to accommodate the needs of your team and desired outcomes. Conveying during your interview that you recognize that different settings, and different individuals, will help to position yourself as a flexible leader who is attuned to specific situations and able to adjust style accordingly.
7. What Do You Do When a Team Member is Under Performing?
You should anticipate questions in your interview related to how you work with others. As well as how you oversee the work of others. From asking this, the interviewer most likely wants to understand the following. How well you establish and communicate objectives to staff members. How adept you are at offering constructive feedback. What steps you take to build and maintain relationships, even when you must address areas of underperformance.
Even if you don’t have experience providing feedback, you certainly have experience receiving feedback. Having served in the military, you most likely have experience with receiving direct feedback—sometimes positive, but often constructive. To answer this question, share an experience. Explain the importance of giving clear direction and communicating clear expectations.Indicate your commitment to working with employees to help them succeed and being available to them to answer questions or provide support or resources as they tackle an assignment. Also, determine what went well and what you might improve in the future.
8. Why Are You Leaving the Military?
You may feel like the interviewer is questioning your patriotism or sense of duty with this question. However, the question of why you left your last job is very common in interviews across all career fields. The interviewer is asking this question to better understand your situation.
Each veteran has their own reasons for leaving the military. The decision to leave the military, whether after one tour, ten years, or a full career is often a difficult one. The reasons behind such a difficult decision can sometimes be intensely personal. By avoiding being caught off guard, you can craft an answer that you can deliver comfortably while remaining true to yourself. Regardless of how you may feel about your time in the service, try not present it in a negative light during the interview. Keep it professional by leaving out the details and emotions behind it. Explain how you set out to serve your country, you did so with honor, and you are now ready to move on to the next phase in your life.
9. Tell me how your experience has prepared you for this job.
One very common question that you can almost be certain will be asked of you is to explain your experience. As well as how it relates to the position you are applying for. With this question, the interviewer wants to know why you think you would be a good fit.
Before the interview, it is crucial to research the company and the job you have applied for. Take some time to think about how your past experiences align with the position and responsibilities that are likely to be required in that position. For each task that you must complete in the role, you have an opportunity to identify specific skills or competencies that could help you perform it. After sharing some specific examples of how your past experience—in both civilian and military roles—has prepared you to take on the duties of this new job, summarize with a strong statement of your confidence in your capabilities and your strong interest in the job.
10. Tell me more about this item on your resume.
Tell me more about an item on your resume is often a question asked by interviewers. The interviewer may look at your resume and pick out individual elements to ask you for more detail on. This is common as a resume can only hold so much information. They want to know more about you and your experience listed on your resume. As a veteran, you will want to make sure to translate military experience into relatable information about how that experience will benefit you in the job you’re applying for.
It is important you review your resume before going to the interview to ensure that you’re as sharp as possible and intimately familiar with everything you’ve included. Practice responding to the question of “tell me more about…” for each item on your resume so that you have examples firmly in mind. If needed, bring a copy of your resume to the interview. If you applied to several jobs and have different resumes for each, organize them. You can do this by creating a resume folder save a copy of each resume you submit titled with the name of the company and position.
Hopefully this information has helped you prepare for your interview. It is normal to feel nervous during the interview which is why reviewing the questions and your answers is so important. If you are looking for a job, check out MilitaryHire.com for more resources!