The Most Important Interview Questions

Photo by Alexander Drachman

What’s the question that every interview includes? It may be phrased in a number of ways, but it is the underlying question in every single interview query:

“Why should we hire you?”

After all, interviewers want you to sell yourself. It’s not up to them to figure out if you are a good match; it is up to you to draw the lines, connect the dots between your skills and their needs. If you don’t know why they should hire you, you certainly won’t be able to convince anyone else!

What’s the other most important interview question?

“Tell me about yourself.”

Even if you are an “experienced” or “seasoned” professional – do NOT consider this question an opportunity to launch into your life story. If you can’t zero in on a few brief autobiographical details and connect them to the position, you will be wasting your time and the interviewer’s patience.

So, how should you prepare
to address these questions?

Refer to your elevator pitch. Your pitch, which should contain information about you and your skills (customizible to individual targets) will focus on what problem you can help solve, include specifics about your abilities and accomplishments and demonstrate your expertise, interest and enthusiasm for their organization. Of course, all of these will be focused on the organization’s needs.

Your answers should NOT focus on what they can do for you – make sure you demonstrate how you can impact them in a positive way.

I invite you to refer to some of my earlier blogs for more advice about how to respond to interview questions to GET the job:

5 Tips to Turn Your Interviewer Into A Fan
Behavioral Interview: Have STAR Stories to Share

Keppie Careers will help you figure out why the interviewer should hire you – and give you the tools and information to make sure that you can do it! Do you need a resume? A mock interview? Keppie Careers can help:


3 Responses to “The Most Important Interview Questions”

  1. 1 Dorie Morgan May 15, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Something I’m embarassed to admit I learned about myself this week: If someone’s response to “Tell me about yourself” lasts longer than 60 seconds, I zone out. I want to be able to take one or two things from the candidate’s pitch to ask more about. The longer the candidate goes on, the more likely I’m going to miss the very thing they were trying to highlight.

  2. 2 Anita Bruzzese May 20, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    I think you’ve hit on something key: Make the other person SEE you in that job. By emphasizing what you can do for them, they envision you in that position, and have a hard time thinking of anyone else. That’s exactly what you are aiming for! Great post.

  3. 3 Miriam Salpeter May 20, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Dorie – It’s key to focus answers so everyone stays with you! My experience is similar to yours – if the answer wanders and doesn’t seem to have a point, my mind wants to wander, too.

    Anita – Thanks for your comment! It’s always nice to have experts in the field stopping by!

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