What to Expect in an Entry-Level Job Interview

As you start the process of finding, interviewing for, and landing your first entry-level job, you might feel a bit apprehensive. I know I felt that way.
As a type-A personality, I like to be prepared. I want to know exactly what I should expect and when I should be expecting to expect this thing I’ve been expecting.

With this in mind, I set off to research as much as I could about landing my first job.

Click here to get my 5 interview tips for recent college graduates.

I found that I could expect a few of the same typical questions. These are the questions that I have laid out below along with suggested answers.
As a unique candidate, your suggested answer will be different than the answer of the next candidate simply because you have different life experiences.

Top 10 Entry-Level Interview Questions

1) Tell me about yourself.

This question presents an opportunity for you to give your elevator pitch. Don’t give your life story. I remember one time I started talking about my childhood and I got a weird look from the interviewer. Stick to personal and professional accomplishments that directly relate to the position for which you are applying.

2) What are your strengths?

This question is also an opportunity to emphasize your key selling points. But get ready for what is coming next…

3) What are your weaknesses?

Use this question as an opportunity to show personal growth. You can throw in an old weakness and how you’ve developed professionally. Or, you can use a strength disguised as a weakness. My favorite one goes something like this, “I have a hard time sharing responsibility. I always like to see a project to the end.” I have a few that I alternate but I always have at least one weakness prepared.

4) What motivates you?

This question helps the interviewer decide how well you will do in the company. If you are motivated by praise, for example, then they know how to squeeze that extra productivity out of you.

5) Tell me about a time you experienced ___. What did you do?

It may be a bit more difficult to prepare for this question. You’ll have to think on your feet. They may ask you for a time that you had to struggle, or a time that you had to deal with a lazy coworker. If you can’t think of something, use an experience from college. They will understand. Most importantly, you have to show that you have experience dealing with tough situations.

6) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

You should discuss that you see yourself growing with the company. Even if you think that you will likely leave in a few years for a higher salary, don’t say it. Make sure they know that you are willing to stay for the right opportunity.

7) Why did you leave your previous job?

You might think this is an opportunity to bash your previous employer but it’s not. That is in bad taste. Instead, discuss opportunity. You wanted to stretch yourself and reach for a better opportunity. Don’t discuss pay or conflict as a reason for leaving your previous job.

8 ) Why do you want to work for us?

“Um..because I want to get paid?” Sorry but the logical answer is not the proper answer. Demonstrate your desire to work for this company in particular. Maybe you appreciate how they do business. Talk about that. Keep it short but powerful.

9) Why should we hire you?

You are not the only candidate. You have to show that you are the best one for the job. Emphasize your skills and play down any concerns that the interviewer has brought up.

10) Do you have any questions for us?

Always. You should have at least 3 questions prepared. Ask about the interviewer, maybe why they like the company. Ask about the company and its goals. And finally ask about the position. When they expect to fill it, if they see you as a good fit. Leave on a high note and after the final questions, thank the interviewer for their time.

Starting with a phone interview? Watch this video with 3 tips for phone interviews.

Oddball Interview Questions That You Shouldn’t Expect

I found these questions very interesting and super odd. What would you do if you were asked one of these weird questions?

I wouldn’t expect that you would hear these questions but if you are interviewing for the employers below, you might want to go in prepared.

“How lucky are you and why?” – Asked at Airbnb.
“If you were a pizza deliveryman how would you benefit from scissors?” – Asked at Apple.
“If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?” – Asked at Bed Bath & Beyond.
“How many square feet of pizza is eaten in the US each year?” – Asked at Goldman Sachs.
“What’s the color of money???….” – Asked at American Heart Association.

View answers to these questions and the remainder of the top 25 oddball interview questions at GlassDoor.

Preparing with questions is the first step in having a successful interview. When you know what to expect, you can avoid any awkward silences. Obviously, there is no way to know exactly how the interview will go but preparing with these top interview questions will help you get that much further in the interview process.

Are there any questions that you would add?

What question do you remember as being the hardest?

Originally posted 2015-05-29 10:00:21.


3 Ways to Ruin Your Career

If you want to succeed in your first job, there are a few key rules you should follow: be punctual, polite, and professional. However, the list of things you shouldn’t do is rarely written down, and it’s a fine line. Here are three rules you shouldn’t break when you start out in your first job. Think of them as the written rules of what not to do as you begin your professional career!

1) Dressing Too Casually

Sure, you’ve probably heard about artistic or tech jobs that don’t care if you wear jeans and a t-shirt to work every day. What they don’t mention is that almost every profession has times when you must dress to impress. Specifically, you should dress well when you are presenting at meeting or when you’re meeting with a director or someone important in your company. Not dressing to impress can be indicative of your attitude toward your job, whether or not that is true. Don’t let people assume you care about your job as little as you care about your attire.

The bottom line: Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. If you would like to be in the director’s chair, watch how she or he dresses and mimic that style. Show him/her that you know the culture and style, and you’ll be noticed – in a good way.

2) Blaming Others

Sometimes you just won’t know how to do things, particularly if you are starting out in a new job. If you make a mistake, you might be tempted to blame a coworker for not giving better instructions, or your supervisor for not providing training. Instead of owning up to your mistakes and asking for constructive criticism, you blame others and cast them in a bad light. Do this often enough, and people will avoid helping you or, worse, resent you.

The bottom line: Own up to any mistakes you made, but ask for help. If you made an error on an assignment because your supervisor did not give clear instructions, instead of blaming his/her communication style, ask for ways to improve communication. Note that you’re an entry level employee who wants to provide good work, done right the first time. That positive and eager attitude will impress your supervisor – and keep you in good standing among your coworkers.

3) Resisting Change

You may have joined your new company based on your boss’ reputation as a stellar communicator and mentor, only to find she was on the retirement track and will retire in three months. Software you’ve been using for months and Excel at may be phased out and replaced with something more complicated. Either way, complaining and resisting these changes does nothing but make you miserable. There will be enough other people in your company who also loathe the changes, and misery loves company. Don’t let yourself be dragged into a complaining spiral – it will only make you less productive and less likely to be seen as a team player.

The bottom line: Change happens. You will deal without it throughout your entire career, so look at the changes happening early in your career as a time to learn and improve your skills. That new, complicated software? Embrace the change and learn a new system. You never know if your next job will require that skillset, and you may be one of the few employees who know how to use it. New manager? Be open-minded about what you can learn from him/her. If you’re seen as someone adaptable to change, you’re likely to be given more responsibility and projects – which will get you noticed by others in your organization for something positive.

Originally posted 2015-03-26 10:00:55.