How to answer typical interview questions

Looking for a job can be one of the most overwhelming and stressful processes that we all have to go through. When that oh-so-exciting moment comes and you are offered an interview, the combination of nerves and excitement can be enough to make you nauseous. Here are a few tips on how to answer some of the questions you might be asked in an interview in order to help put you at ease.

So, tell me a little about yourself.
This is one of the most commonly asked interview questions, and it is important that you're prepared to answer it. Try to stick to things that relate, such as your education, relevant job history (emphasis on relevant) and a couple facts about yourself that your potential employer might be interested in (e.g. if it is a fundraising position, mention any volunteer work or events you've organized in the past).

What's your greatest strength?
Consider this your time to shine, but be careful not to sound like you're bragging. Talk about your strongest skills and character traits, but make sure you're honest. Take some time before your interview to memorize what you think are your strongest qualities. Be original. Anyone can say they're organized and hard working; think of things that will make you stand out from the crowd.

What's your biggest weakness?
Interviewees have feared this question for a long time. It's okay if you need to take some time to think about your answer; pausing for thought doesn't make you look bad. The best thing you can do with this question is to be prepared. Come up with an answer that, though it sounds like a weakness, is really a strength (e.g. “I am too detailoriented, so I try to take time every day to step back and look at the big picture”).

What do you know about this company/ organization?
Employers want to know that you care about their company, so do your research.

What specifically in the job posting interested you?
This is one of those questions where the employer wants to know you picked their company to work for, and that you didn't just send them a resume along with the hundreds you sent elsewhere (even if you did). Take some time before the interview to review some of the key points on the job description. Make sure you focus on the points you would be good at, but also the areas you would have to work on.

What made you choose to get into this line of work?
For some of you, this is an easy question to answer. Maybe you grew up knowing you wanted to be a doctor, a reporter or a police officer. For others, this one might be tricky. If you just stumbled upon your career path, or decided two days ago that this is what you wanted to do, you'll need to prepare a good answer for this question. Find a way to put a positive spin on it.

How do you stay motivated to work?
Be honest and realistic. With most jobs, there are days (or at least parts of days) that aren't the most exciting. Maybe certain days you'll have to do filing, or inventory or work with a particularly tricky client. Good answers include: “I get my sense of self worth through my work,” or “At the end of the day, it's about the big picture, and I know that every task helps overall.”

Do you have any questions for me/us?
Ask questions! If you have any specific questions about the interview or your duties, ask them. Try to avoid questions about salary or vacation time; all those specifics can be sorted out once you've been hired. Just in case, make sure you have a few general questions you could ask, such as “What would an average day look like for me here?” or “What is the work environment like?” That way you're still showing interest in the job, even if your questions aren't specific.

With lots of online resources for job seekers, it is important that you spend a little time coming up with original answers that are specific to you and your skills. Employers know that there are websites with answers to interview questions, so they are expecting you to think outside of the box and are even starting to ask tricky questions to throw interviewees a curveball.

The best thing you can do is come prepared: do your research and think about some answers to questions that could be asked. And remember, it's okay to be nervous; it shows the employer you care.