Interviews are stress inducing, but one way you can reduce your anxiety before an interview is to know what to expect. Whether it’s an interview for college, an internship, or your first job, you’re bound to run into some of the same questions and you can be prepared with how to answer them.
Don’t be afraid to practice your answers beforehand. While you don’t want to speak from a rehearsed script, it is smart to have mental bullet points on topics you’d like to discuss in response to each of these questions. Have a friend or family member run a mock interview with you so you can practice these interview questions and answers in real time, out loud, instead of just in your head.
The most common interview questions are all going to be about you and your strengths, so you need to be prepared to sell yourself in a way that isn’t cheesy. Take some time to think about what makes you unique and remember that these interviews are an opportunity for the college or employer to get a better sense of who you are, so there is no “right” answer.
Here are some of the top interview questions so you can be prepared and confident:
Though it isn’t a question, it is a very common request in an interview. Given that this prompt is very open-ended and unspecific, it can be difficult to know how to respond. While it’s important to highlight the traits that make you right for this particular job or college, you should also use this as an opportunity to give the interviewer a better sense of your personality. Spend some time highlighting where you’re from, your hobbies, and what makes you you.
Everyone goes into an interview prepared to highlight their strengths, but have you thought about what your weaknesses are? Know your strengths, but also know how and in what ways you can improve. If your response is that you have no weaknesses, the interviewer may think you are cocky, naive, or lacking self-awareness.
Your interviewer ultimately wants to make sure that you are the right fit for their college/internship/job, so they’ll want to know what has you excited about it. This is an opportunity to connect with the interviewer, so be prepared with specific reasons that highlight why you’re interested in their position or university.
Employers and college admissions staff want to know that you are a driven and motivated student. Have a clear view of where you see your career going and how you are going to get there.
Do your research on the school or company and know where your strengths will be most beneficial to them. Be confident in your abilities and the ways that your skills could improve their campus or workplace.
While dedication to your studies is important, universities and future employers also want to know that you’re a well-rounded person. Knowing about your hobbies and passions can better help the interviewer understand you and make a decision about whether or not you are a good fit for their campus/office.
Have at least a general idea of what is going on in the world before your interview, particularly if your intended major or job is related to current events. It’s possible that your interviewer will ask you something topical to gauge your political interests and see that you care about the world around you.
Finally, make sure you bring some questions of your own. The interviewer wants to see that you’re interested in their school or workplace, and you can demonstrate this by bringing up insightful questions about their institution.
If you’re asking yourself about how to answer interview questions, you’re on the right track. Above all else, be sincere and honest in your interview. It will be very apparent to the person interviewing you if you’re saying things only to impress them. If you just breathe and be yourself, you’re sure to succeed.
For more insights on how to answer common interview questions, check out this series of short videos by Give A Grad A Go.
Since 2002, NSHSS has supported young academics on their journey to college and beyond as they prepare to become the leaders of tomorrow. The mission behind NSHSS is to recognize academic excellence and honor high-achieving students, providing them with the resources and network to excel in college, career and community. In doing so, NSHSS connects members with global events, scholarships, college fairs, internships, career and leadership programs, partner discounts, and more. Discover what makes NSHSS worth it to student members and how you can get involved.
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