Answered by Bryan, Hiring Expert at IBM Corporation, on Thursday, January 8, 2015
(1) "So ... Why don't you tell me a little about yourself?"
A lot of times, organizations will disguise the information they are really asking for by asking a seemingly generic question. Companies don't want you to tell them about your favorite hobbies or how many children you have or the vacation you took this past Summer. Use this question as your opportunity to summarize your work experience (no more than one or two minutes). Show the company you are interviewing for why you are a good fit for the role.
Sample Response: "I have six years of marketing experience and spent the past three years as the Assistant to the CMO at ABC Corp. overseeing multiple projects. During that time, I streamlined the workflow so that we were able to meet the deadline for every monthly project and in many cases we exceeded expectations set by our director and the CMO. Our efficiency saved the company two weeks worth of staff overtime and expenses. Project management is one of my greatest skills and I'm sure my experience has we well prepared to meet the responsibilities of this position."
(2) "What do you think is your greatest weakness?"
Just don't go with the easiest answer in the book, "I'm a perfectionist."
The best way to answer this question is with honesty!
Sample Response: "I'm not as strong as I'd like to be on analytics so I'm taking an excel and SPSS course to hone my skills. I'm already learning some things that have improved my productivity and efficiency in data analysis and hope to find more ideas on how to use big data analytics within my job responsibilities."
3. "Why did you leave your last job?"
Don't vent or focus on the negative with brutally honest answers such as "My boss was a jerk" or "The company culture " was terrible."
Sample Response: "Well, I've had lots of opportunity at ABC Company and I work with some outstanding people. I guess if I had to pick one thing, it would be I felt my potential growth was stifled. I like to remain focused on the client and at ABC Company, I had to spend too much time doing house-keeping tasks I couldn't give as much attention to the client as they deserved."
4. "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"
When you hear this question, what a company is really saying is, "Will you stay with us long term?"
No human being on Earth can possibly imagine where they will be five years from now. The easiest and best way to answer this is with a reply that says you hope to have grown in skills, grown your network and helped the organization succeed.
5. "Tell me about a time you failed at something..."
Everyone has failed, especially in the workplace so do not lie about this! Think of a time when a work-related situation didn't turn out quite as you had hoped. An interviewer is interested in seeing how you took responsibility for your failure, what you learned from it and how you used that experience to succeed in the future.
"I once rushed a colleague to complete data analysis I needed for a presentation the following morning. Because I pressured my colleague with such a short time frame, the analysis was flawed and it came back to bite me big time when my superiors discovered my incorrect analysis had lead them in the wrong direction. Needless to say, I am now a HUGE stickler for detail, particularly when it comes to data analysis."