Questions for You to Ask at the End of an Interview

As you near the end of your interview, the hiring manager will likely turn to you and say, “So, do you have any questions for me?” The answer should always be yes. In fact, many employers automatically reject candidates who don’t have questions because they don’t seem sufficiently interested in the role.

By asking the interviewer questions, you’ll able to walk away from the interview with a better idea of whether or not the job is a good fit for you, while also showing the employer that you’re engaged in the process and that you care about the position. So whether you’re interviewing for an internship or an entry-level job, asking questions is something you should do in every interview.

Here are the top questions to ask at the end of your interview.

Company-Specific Questions

These questions relate to the organization itself and are fine to ask in almost any interview.

1.  What makes working at this company special?

This question shows employers that you’re not just looking for any sort of job but that you care about finding the right cultural fit.

2. How do you see this company/industry evolving in the next 5 to 10 years?

By asking this question, you let employers know that you’re interested in the future of the company and care about how your professional growth aligns with the company’s growth.

3. I know one of the company’s values is [value]. How is that defined and demonstrated here at the company?

When you ask this question, you demonstrate to employers that you did your research and that you’re looking for a company that aligns with your values.

4. What qualities and attributes make for a successful employee here?
This question demonstrates to employers that you are eager to succeed and that you are making sure you will be a good fit for the company.

Role-Specific Questions

These questions are specific to the position you’re interviewing for so be careful when asking them and research as much as you can about the role beforehand. For example, asking about the day-to-day responsibilities of a role is appropriate for a consulting position but would seem out of place during an interview for a sales job, where the primary responsibilities involve reaching out to potential clients and selling the company’s products.

1. What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?

This question is important to ask if you are unsure what the role entails, particularly if the position is cross-function or part of a small team. This will help you get a better understanding of the job and whether it is the right job for you.

2. What is the most challenging aspect of the job?

By asking this question, you let employers know that you are rational in your expectations – no job is going to be a walk in the park. You should also know both the good and bad things regarding the job you are interviewing for.

3. What does the ideal candidate for this role look like?

When you ask this question, you are able to assess whether your skills and background align with what the company is looking for.

Wrap-Up Questions

These are great questions to ask as the interview is winding down though again, some are more appropriate for certain interviews than others. For example, if you’re interviewing for a junior role, the question about next steps should always be directed to the person who set up your interview in the first place.

1. What are the next steps? What is your timeline for making a decision and when should I expect to hear back from you?

This question is important to ask because this will tell you what to expect in the next steps of the interview process. This is also a good time to tell employers about time-sensitive things they should know about such as if you have other offers on the table or if you need to figure out arrangements for relocation, visas, etc. Again, be sure to ask this question to your hiring manager.

2. Is there anything else I can provide you with to help you with your decision?

This question is a polite way to make sure everything is covered and there is no uncertainty around your candidacy. This will also give you peace of mind since you have done everything you can to nail the interview.

3. What’s been your best moment at [company]?

This is a great wrap-up question because it asks the hiring manager to reflect on one of their great experiences with the company and to show some the value they’ve gained by working there. This question is the perfect way to end on a high note and we recommend asking it in every interview.

 

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as The Art of Networking Offline and find answers to common interview questions such as Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?.

How to Answer: What Can You Offer Us That Someone Else Can’t?

This is a common interview question and one that gives you a chance to elaborate on the answer you gave to “What are your strengths?” It’s a question designed to gauge your confidence level and knowledge of the company, so even if the interviewer doesn’t ask it directly, be prepared to show that you’re a qualified candidate who can bring something unique to the table. Read through the job description to identify the main things the hiring manager is looking for and show how you meet those needs.

Here are the things you need to keep in mind when preparing your answer.

Show off your experience and unique abilities.

Your interviewer is essentially asking “Why should I hire you?” and your answer should show that you’re different from other candidates they’ve interviewed. Think of the top 2-3 things they’re looking for and explain how you meet those criteria. For example, if you’ve had an internship in the industry, talk about you experience. If you’re not sure what to focus on, look at the job description and identify key traits in the first 3 bullet points.

Say something like: “I’m a creative problem-solver who wants to be part of a team that develops great branding campaigns. I’ve worked on several marketing campaigns during class projects and at a previous internship, so I’m familiar with the challenges I’ll face in this role and I know how to address them.”

Explain what you bring to the table.

Next, show how your experience and unique qualities make you stand out. If you’ve already made it clear that you’re a hard worker, you can emphasize the fact that you always keep a positive attitude and will bring a new level of leadership to the team. Be humble but confident. Giving a direct answer will show that you’ve thought about the question and know exactly what you can bring to the position.

Say something like: “I bring three things to the table that most candidates can’t offer: My problem-solving ability that I’ve used to improve campaign performance, in-depth knowledge of social media strategy and previous experience with email marketing.”

Connect your experience to the position you’re applying for.

Being an awesome employee has a lot to do not only with your unique abilities but also with how those abilities meet the employer’s needs. Whether the company you’re interviewing with is a tech startup or a consulting firm, demonstrating that you understand the organization’s needs and can address them will go a long way toward impressing the interviewer and helping them to see you as a part of the team.

Here’s how to bring it all together:

“I’m a creative problem-solver who wants to be part of a team that develops great branding campaigns. I’ve worked on several marketing campaigns during class projects and at a previous internship, so I’m familiar with the challenges I’ll face in this role and I know how to address them. I bring three things to the table that most candidates can’t offer: My problem-solving ability that I’ve used to improve campaign performance, in-depth knowledge of social media strategy and previous experience with email marketing. With my combined knowledge and enthusiasm for this industry, I know that I would be a good fit for this role.”

Pro Tip: Make sure your answer takes less than 60 seconds and practice it over and over until you have it down pat.

Answering “What can you offer us that some else can’t?” is a great way to show how you stand out from other candidates. By highlighting your unique skills and demonstrating how your personality and future goals align with the company, you’ll impress your interviewer and increase your chances of getting the job!

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 5 Technology Trends You Need to Know and find answers to common interview questions such as How Have You Displayed Leadership?

Here’s What To Do After An Interview If You Want To Get Hired

Not doing interview follow-up is a bit like cramming for a final and then falling asleep an hour beforehand and missing the whole thing. You did all the heavy lifting, but will probably still get a zero.

As absurd as this may sound, even the most organized and hard-working students fall victim to a similar problem every year. They send internship applications, but don’t follow-up with the employers, leaving a high percentage chance that their application will get lost in the mix.

Interview follow-ups are among the most important and overlooked aspects of getting an internship, so take note.

What IS a follow-up?

A follow-up is a simple email or note, thanking someone for taking the time to meet or speak with you. A follow-up helps you build rapport with an interviewer or contact and lets them know you are a professional and comfortable communicating in a professional setting.

Most importantly though, a good follow-up makes sure you stay top of mind when a hiring manager makes the difficult decision of selecting who gets an internship and who doesn’t. More often then not, when there are multiple qualified candidates for a role, the hiring manager will pick the person who “feels” right.

“So wait, you’re telling me that a simple email, that I can write in 2 minutes, might be the tipping point that lands me my dream internship???”

Exactly!

Scenarios and examples.

Follow-ups are more of an art than a science. When done politely and thoughtfully, they will leave a lasting positive impression. When done awkwardly or aggressively, they can get you branded as a pain in the behind. Ultimately, they are so important and so commonplace in the professional world that it is absolutely essential that you learn the follow-up process and commit to using them.

Pro tip: Remember that most hiring managers are busy, so be considerate, direct and keep it brief.

Below are different scenarios where you should follow-up and some best practices on how to ensure that your message shines!

1.) After an interview

You should follow-up after every interview you have, no exceptions! This email should be sent either the day of the interview or the day after. It should be brief and thankful. And, if you would like, you can reference a part of the interview in which you feel like you connected with the interviewer, but you want to avoid coming off like a suck up.

Ex. 1

“John,

Thanks for taking the time to interview with me today. It was really interesting to learn how Widget Corp’s social media efforts are focused on creating two-way conversations, rather than pushing content. I have always found that listening first leads to stronger relationships and better results, and really appreciated this point.

Please let me know if you would like any additional references and thanks again for your consideration.

Cheers,

Sally

Pro Tip: Oftentimes, a short and to the point email is best after an interview.

Ex. 2

“John,

Thanks for taking the time to interview me. I think Widget Corp has an exciting product and culture, and believe that my experience as social media director for my university would make me a great fit.

Thanks for your consideration and have a great rest of your week.

Regards,

Sally

All-Star Pro Tip:
Bring a blank thank-you card and stamped envelope to an in-person interview. After you leave the interview, fill-in the thank-you card and place it in the nearest mailbox to be delivered to your interviewer’s desk the next morning.

2.) After submitting an application and not hearing back

The second most common time to use a follow-up is if you have submitted an application and you have not heard back. While many students assume this is because they have been rejected, in many cases a lack of response occurs when the hiring manager is overwhelmed and they have simply been lost in the mix. As long as you are polite and considerate you have nothing to lose, in following-up and seeing where you stand in the review process.

Ex.

John,

I know you are really busy so I wanted to quickly hop back on to your inbox. Did you happen receive my application for your marketing management role?

Thanks for your time.

Cheers,

Sally

3.) After a networking lunch or informational interview

It is common that as you conduct your internship search, you will take time to meet with different professionals in your field; either references from family, professors, or other contacts you have developed. When these busy professionals take time to speak with you about the industry, it warrants a follow-up, with the best follow-ups thanking them for their time and showing them that you paid attention and learned something new from the conversation.

“John,

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today, it was really interesting to learn more about how you have seen social media change from one-to-many type conversations, to more one-on-one conversations. I agree that building relationships, rather than just spraying content is a much more powerful way to grow users in new online communities.

In fact I just read an article in Search Engine Land about this that I thought you might enjoy.

Thanks again for your time, would you mind if I had one or two quick follow-up questions if I reached out?

All the best,

Sally

4.) Immediately after sending an application

A follow-up directly after sending an application can be a way to stand out, but should only be used if the selection process is rolling, not if there is a set deadline.

Ex.

“John,

My name is Sally and I just submitted an application to your Widget Marketing Position. I spent last year marketing widgets and learned a lot about the process and am excited to bring my past experience, and team-centric focus to your marketing campaigns this summer. If you have any follow-up questions feel free to let me know and thanks for your time and consideration.

Cheers,

Sally

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Internship? and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

Top 20 Entry-Level Job Interview Questions and Answers

Congratulations on getting an interview, it’s no minor feat! It’s important to remember that the employer will be far less forgiving in an entry-level job interview than in an internship interview. Hiring a full-time employee is much riskier than hiring an intern for the summer. So come well rested, prepared, and as relaxed as you possibly can.

We’ve compiled a list of the top 20 entry-level interview questions and answers to help you prepare to land your first job after. They fall into the following categories:

Pro Tip: visit this page on your phone to turn these questions into flash cards for practicing!

Select a topic to navigate to related interview questions and view their answers.


The Core 5 Interview Questions

You’re guaranteed to get asked these questions.

1. Tell me about yourself.

This question is often used to break the ice and see how personable you can be. Be careful not to drone on endlessly for this question. It’s easy to get caught up in your back story and lose track of time. A safe answer is to give a brief overview that covers where you grew up, where you went to school, why you chose your major, any internship experience you have, and why you’re applying for this job.

2. What are your strengths? Your weaknesses?

To answer this question you need to do some introspection. Ask your friends, family, and any previous coworkers what they how they view your strengths and weaknesses. Prepare to discuss at least 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses. Stay away from clichés like “perfectionist” and “workaholic” as they can be interpreted as weaknesses. Own up to your faults. Everyone has them. Just be honest and open to improving yourself.

3. Give me an example or a situation in which…

These questions are not only used to determine what you learned from a particular experience, but also to assess how you would respond to potential workplace scenarios and situations. Prepare to talk about 3 scenarios in which you faced conflict or difficulty in either work or school, had difficulty with either a supervisor or peer, and a leadership opportunity or a project you are particularly proud of.

4. Tell me about this (class / internship) I see on your resume?

The good news here is that nobody knows and understands your experiences better than you, so you should be confident for this question. This is a great opportunity for you to sell yourself. A good framework for your answers is to explain the goals for any class or internship, cover your personal responsibilities in any projects, and discuss the outcomes. Again, avoid droning on for too long about any particular experience and wrap things up concisely.

5. What are your longer-term career goals (or where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years)?

There is no “right answer” to this question and it’s certainly ok to say that you don’t have any. However, be prepared to explain why you don’t have any. One solid strategy is to downplay your career goals and aspirations (you are young after all) and play up your interest in the company and industry of the job you’re applying for. Showcase your passion to be a part of whatever it is they are doing.

Entry-Level Specific Interview Questions

Questions specific to the nature of entry-level jobs.

1. Why are you interested in this role?

Stating a clear and concise answer here is crucial. The employer is looking to see that you are interested and ready to invest your time into such an opportunity. Be specific about your goals and expectations, discuss how you believe your qualifications are in-line with those required of the position, and be ready to explain why you chose this particular company when applying.

2. What do you know about our company?

Researching the company or organization you are applying to is an integral part of the application process, and this question is an evaluation of whether or not you have already done such an essential task. Prepare to answer questions regarding the origins of the company/organization, their current activities, and their objectives for the future.

Failing to have any knowledge of the company/organization you are applying for will appear to be indicative of a lack of interest or commitment to the application, and to the position itself, whether or not that was your actual intention.

3. How has your internship experience prepared you for the position you’re applying to?

If you don’t have internship experience, feel free to skip this one, as they probably won’t ask it. Otherwise, if your internship experience was directly relevant to the current role you’re applying for (i.e. the same general work), your answer should focus on the specifics of the internship work. Otherwise, it’s wise to focus on any experience you had working on a team, meeting deadlines, and communicating effectively.

4. What classwork has best prepared you for this role?

If you have group project experience, highlight it now. Focus on your role on a team and how you know how to be a team player. If there are classes with specific knowledge that directly prepared you for this role, you’re in luck, that’s another easy answer to this question.

5. How would you assess your writing and communication skills?

This is not a question that mid or senior-level applicants ever get asked. Writing and communication in school is very different from that in the professional world and the employer is checking to make sure you know the difference. If you’ve had experience communicating with full-time employees in your internship, let them know. Otherwise, hammer home the point that you know how to write clearly, concisely, and respectfully.

Academic or Interest-Related Interview Questions

Questions to assess your passion and motivation.

1. Why did you choose the major that you did?

You probably didn’t make a snap decision to major in your major. You likely chose it because you found it interesting, challenging, or thought it would lead to a promising career. The only key to answering this question is knowing why you chose your major and communicating that reasoning clearly. Be honest, even if your reasoning doesn’t seem interesting. It’s better to be honest to yourself and the employer up front than attempt to tell them what you think they want to hear.

2. What were some of your favorite/least favorite classes? Why?

Don’t just give a list of your classes or answer with something generic about how you liked all of them. Be opinionated here and honest. Try and stick to classes you enjoyed because they were stimulating or challenging and avoid saying that you enjoyed a class because it was easy or because you did well in it. The employer wants to see what piques your interest in your measure. They’re evaluating your ability to be genuine and passionate about things.

3. What activities do you do outside of work or school?

Employers like to see that you are engaged in other activities that are either indirectly or directly related to the skills required for the position you are applying for, but it isn’t a necessity. The most important part of this question is to be able to demonstrate that you have a life outside of work, and are invested in and passionate about experiencing new things.

4. How would your past professors or managers describe you?

It’s best to start answering this question with a clarification that you can’t known for certain how they would describe you. Start broad and cover as a whole how you think your previous supervisors or professors have viewed you. This is similar to the strengths and weaknesses question. Then, once you’ve stated broadly how you think you’re viewed, give a few specific examples. It’s best if you can demonstrate through examples (e.g. projects) why a professor or previous manager would say these things.

5. Have you worked any part-time jobs?

Part-time jobs are a major advantage when applying for a job. Over 80% of students have worked a part-time job by the time they graduate. It’s been shown again and again that students with part-time work experience do better in the work place. If you have some part-time job experience, highlight it here. One way to nail this question would be to talk about learning to work on a team, in a professional environment, and communicate with fellow employees. If you don’t have experience, a simple ‘no’ will do here.

Situational Interview Questions

Questions about your past behavior in certain situations to see how you react and learn from previous experiences.

1. Give me an example of a time in which you handled a looming deadline.

How well do you perform under pressure? That’s what the employer is trying to understand. Don’t be afraid to show your weakness here. This, like most situational questions, is trying to get at what you learned or took away from a past situation. Admit your weaknesses and how you’d handle them differently. Then highlight your strengths. Fortunately, you’ve probably had lots of recent experience with tight deadlines in your classes.

2. Give me an example of a time when you worked on a team. What was your role?

Your ability to collaborate and communicate with a team are probably the most important professional soft skills that you can have. Prepare for this by having some specific examples ready from when you worked on a group project. You don’t have to choose a group project where you were the team lead. What’s more important is that you knew your role on a team and that you performed well in your role. If that was a leadership role, great. If not, no worries. If you have examples of how you established or tweaked processes or mediated conflict within the team, use them.

3. Describe a situation where you taught a concept to a co-worker or classmate.

You’ve just spent a lot of time learning from professors and in groups, so you might not think of yourself as a teacher. However, the more knowledge you accumulate, the more likely it is that you’ll be teaching things in the future. It’s best to be specific if you can, and focus on an example from a group project at school or in a previous job. Focus primarily on how you communicated with the person and ensured that they were learning. Don’t focus so much on what you taught them, but rather on how you taught them.

4. Describe a time where you disagreed with a coworker or teammate on a project.

Disagreement is natural. The employer isn’t trying to assess your ability to debate, or even to know whether you’re right or wrong. What they want to know is at the end of the day, can you reach a consensus and move forward. Disagreement is good as long as it doesn’t prevent good work and progress from being made. Being able to resolve differences and move forward is a critical skill that all employers are looking for.

5. Describe a situation in which someone critiqued your work. How did you respond?

You’re (hopefully) going to get lots of feedback in any new job. How you take that feedback and what you do with it will often determine whether or not you keep the job. If you’re not willing to listen to feedback (even if you think it’s wrong) and attempt to address concerns, you likely won’t do well in many professional environments. To answer this question, try and find a situation where someone not only critiqued you, but a situation where you disagreed with that critique. Attempt to demonstrate how you still listened to the critique, voiced your own opinion, and did your best to understand where the critiquer was coming from. Show that you have the capacity to listen and change your behavior.

What’s Next

Now that you’ve got the top 20 questions down, you’re gonna nail that interview and get the job. Well, at least we hope you do! Next, check out some tips we have on evaluating entry-level job fit.

Once you’ve got the job, come check out our tips on starting your entry-level job off right and setting great entry-level job goals.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Entry-Level Job? and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell me about yourself.

Internship Interview: Questions and Answers

Got five minutes? Great! Here are the top five questions you should be prepared to answer before any internship interview. The art of interviewing well includes knowing how to respond to the most popular types of interview questions.

If you feel nervous about being interviewed, we encourage you to practice answering the following foundational questions. Remember, you initially took the time to prepare an outstanding application (which got you to this stage in the first place) so continue this trend and take the time to prepare for the interview.

Of course, please take more than five minutes to actually prepare for your interview.  Practice the answers to these questions—in fact, master them:

1. Tell me about yourself?

The interviewer’s intent of asking this question is to get to know you. Your goal, however, is for the interviewer to remember you. Be brief by keeping answers to 60 seconds or less. One way of doing this is to open up by introducing where you are from and by directly stating what you are currently doing (student or working professional). Proceed to discuss your academic of professional interests and list 1-3 past experiences supporting your interests. Conclude by stating the reason(s) for applying to the internship.

2.  What are your strengths and weaknesses?

The intent of this question is to learn more about your competencies and your motivation to improve your weak ones. Prepare to discuss at least 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses.

Most candidates get nervous at the thought of divulging weaknesses. After all, isn’t stating a weakness a bad thing?  It actually is not if you are choosing to do something about. Herein lies the strategy; first, stay away from cliché and ineffective answers such as “perfectionist” or “workaholic.” Second, always follow a statement about a weakness with a statement describing what you are doing to improve upon it.

For instance, if you have struggled in the past with public speaking, you could state, “However, by learning to collaborate within smaller teams and joining leadership positions on campus, I am learning to give speeches and short announcements to larger crowds…”

Also remember that the lack of experience in a given field can be a weakness but that transferable skills or experience may make up for it. For instance, “While I have never worked in a marketing position for a large nonprofit, I have taken classes in nonprofit management and I have volunteered for political campaigns where I learned to develop targeted messages.”

3.  Give me an example or a situation in which…

The intent of this question is to understand how you would respond to situational or work-place situations. By asking questions about your past, the interviewer may try to predict how you would handle and resolve future workplace situations, from deadlines to interacting with coworkers.

Individual questions vary, but typically, you should prepare at least 3 scenarios to cover any of these questions: (1) a situation in which you faced a conflict or difficulty at work or in school; (2) a situation in which you may have had difficulty with a supervisor, co-worker, or peer; and (3) a leadership opportunity or a project you were most proud of.

Where do you find examples?  Look at your resume. Remember, you can use also use experiences from school or from other prior internships or work.

To answer such questions, use a variation of the “STAR” technique: answer the question by retelling the situation
and stating the task at hand that was involved in the situation. Then describe how you acted (the action). End by revealing the results of your actions and how you resolved the situation. Using the STAR technique will keep your answers relevant and succinct.

4.  Let’s go over your resume (and what’s not on it).

The purpose of this question is to see how you discuss past educational and professional experiences. Seize this opportunity to successfully market yourself. An interviewer may start by going over your resume but end by asking you to provide more details on a variety of topics, whether it’s a project you’ve collaborated on, the time gaps in between jobs, and class subjects you enjoyed or least enjoyed.

This question is a big reason why you should know your resume inside and out. Aside from sounding confident and prepared, you will sound professional. So know your resume like the back of your hand. One strategy to help you highlight certain parts of your resume to the interviewer would be to prepare an “interview resume” to bring to the actual interview. This is a resume that has been slightly marked up with your notes. These notes could be extra information or qualities that are relevant to the internship description. If permitted, pull out the resume at the beginning of your interview so you can have your notes in front of you at all times.

5. What are your career goals (a.k.a. where do you see yourself in ___ years)?

Interviewers usually pose this question because they may be interested in knowing how serious you are in pursuing a given academic or professional field. In an internship context, this question should compel you to dig down and think about your career interests in the long term: Are you planning to go back to graduate school? Are you interested in gaining a few years of actual real-world experience? Would you like to work as a full-time staff member of an organization similar to the one you are applying for? There is no “right answer” but you do have to provide one that is insightful in that you have a plan to keep building your professional skills after your internship. Who knows, maybe your organization would like to know if you would be available for a permanent position after you complete your internship. And in that case, how you answer this becomes all the more important.

There you have it. To sum up, thoroughly prepare your answers on these 5 basic questions. In fact, have a friend drill you to help keep your answers brief and avoid rambling. Talk to a mirror. Repeat the answers in the shower.  Write your answers down and keep studying at it. The results: a successful interview and newfound confidence in your ability to interview well.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Ways to Impress Your Boss and find answers to common interview questions such as What Are Your Strengths?

How To Evaluate Entry-Level Job Fit in Your Interview

Interviews aren’t just for the employer to evaluate whether or not they should give you a job. They’re more of a 2-way conversation and an important opportunity for you to evaluate whether the company is a good fit. This evaluation is most important when considering where to start working after graduating from college. Your first job can set you on a path on to a successful career, or it can drastically confuse you and make it harder to figure out what to do next.

Here are a few tips to help you use your time and questions in an interview to best understand whether or not you actually want the job you’re interviewing for.

Pause and Reflect

Before you even consider preparing for your interview a great exercise is to take some time to reflect on what you think you want from your career, your first job, and what success means to you. The better you know yourself the smoother the interview will go. You’ll be able to answer questions confidently, honestly, and second-guess yourself far less often.

Read Into the Interview Process

How have you been treated during the job application and interview process? Has the employer been communicative and friendly? Have they set expectations clearly? Put yourself in the shoes of the company you are interviewing with and ask yourself if you’d be happy with the treatment the applicants have gotten?

The application process can tell you quite a bit about how the company values hiring and the importance of hiring the right people. Attention to detail and thoughtfulness is often a great sign that you’ll be happy and nurtured in your first role. If you’re being left in the dark frequently, it might be time to consider whether or not you really want to work for someone who apparently doesn’t care too much about hiring you.

Observe Body Language

When you’re meeting with employees at the company and answering their questions, try and read their body language when they talk about their company. Are they upbeat and optimistic? Do they hint at there being confict or trouble? The manner in which they communicate can often lead you to get a feel for how satisfying the day-to-day work is. If you’re getting bad signs from the employees, don’t necessarily dig in and ask them directly why they appear to be frustrated. Be tactful and ask them to elaborate more. Ask about personal interests of the employees that interview you. See if their body language changes when they’re talking about something you know they truly enjoy.

Don’t Sell Out

You don’t have a job. Your friends have jobs. Your family is breathing down your neck about what you’re going to do after graduation. You have mountains of debt to start paying off. You’ve had little success with interviewing, but this job feels like you can actually land it.

This is a relatively common scenario that leads to early entry-level job frustration. You go into the interview overly desperate and wind up taking a dead-end job that leads to more frustration, poor performance and reviews, and an early quarter-life crisis.

Instead of caving to your desperation and eating up everything the employer says during the interview, remain skeptical and listen thoroughly to everything they’re saying.

Ask About Motivation

Ask your potential employer what motivates their employees. Why are people there? Is is their passion for the company’s mission? Is it financial motivation? Business motivation? Their answer should align with your interests and desires. If you’re driven to help a particular cause, working at just any company isn’t good enough. Find the one where the people are particularly motivated to help that same cause.

Answer Their Questions Honestly

There’s often a lot of temptation in a job interview to provide the answers that you think the employer wants to hear. The more honest and transparent you are about your desires and goals, the more the employer (who should know their own company culture better than anyone) can help you assess whether or not you’d be a great fit.

What’s Next

Now that you’ve got a few additional tips to help you assess whether or not a company is a good fit, feel free to prep fully for the interview with our top 20 entry-level job interview questions.

If you think you’re going to take the job, feel free to move on and check out our guide to starting your entry-level job off on the right foot.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Entry-Level Job? and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

How to Answer: Tell Me About Yourself

“Tell me about yourself,” is one of the most frequently asked questions in an interview. In fact, it’s usually the first one. The key to answering it well is to be concise but informative. Keep the answer to under 60 seconds and focus on how your skills and personality traits are related to the position you’re interviewing for.

Approach it as if you just wrote an autobiography and you have to summarize it in four sentences. Focus on the highlights: Talk about where you’re from, your major and your future goals. Then add on a sentence at the end that describes why you’re sitting in the interview and why you’d be a good fit for the role.

Here’s how to do it.

Talk about your background.

Answering this question well is about more than just mentioning your skills or professional experience. It’s also about putting those things into context with the rest of your life. At the beginning of your answer you should explain where you’re from, where you’re attending school and what you’re majoring in.

Describe your interests.

Next, talk a little bit about your interests including what led you to apply for the role. For example, if you’re passionate about journalism, explain why the field excites you and why you’d like to be a part of it.

Mention your past experience.

Once you’ve described your interests, explain how your past internship and work experience have shaped your decision to seek out this role. If you don’t have previous experience in the field (or a related on) you can talk about relevant classes you’ve taken or transferable skills you’ve developed through class projects or extracurriculars.

Explain why you’re excited about the opportunity.

Wrap up your answer with one sentence explaining why you’re excited about this opportunity. Be sure to mention something you admire about the position or the company, and connect it back to your goals.

Say something like: “I’m originally from New York City and I’m currently a Junior at UT Austin. I decided to study English because I’ve always loved reading and writing and studying literature in general. I’m now looking to gain experience in the world of journalism, a field I’m passionate about because of its ability to inform and engage readers. I’ve written extensively for my campus newspaper, reporting on campus news and events, and I’m excited to gain more valuable reporting experience by working on the types of stories your company publishes.”

Once you have your answer nailed down, practice it in the mirror several times. This will help you get comfortable with all the points you want to emphasize and will ensure that you sound confident without being stiff.

Answering “Tell me about yourself” is the first step in connecting with your interviewer and a great chance to distinguish yourself from the majority of candidates who may be fumbling over their answer. So practice your story to make sure it reflects the thoughtfulness and detail you’ve put into your response and go into the interview confident that you’ll be putting your best foot forward.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell Me About an Accomplishment That You’re Most Proud Of.

How to Answer: What Are Your Strengths?

 “What are your strengths?” is a go-to question for interviewers. The key to answering it correctly is knowing that the hiring manager is trying to find out not only what you’re good at, but also how your skills match up with the company’s needs. This is closely related to “What can you offer us that someone else can’t?” another common question you’ll encounter during the interview process, and it’s a great chance to show off your professional strengths while demonstrating that you’re a great fit for the position!

Here are some tips to help you answer this question perfectly.

Highlight your top 3 strengths.

Before your interview, start by making a list of 10 skills and personality traits you’re proud of. This should include everything from your technical skills (like writing or knowledge of social media platforms) to soft skills like your ability to make friends easily (which shows that you’re a people person), and education-based skills such as training from college classes or past internships. If you need help coming up with this list, try brainstorming with friends or asking professors to weigh in on what they think you’re really good at. Once you have your top 10 strengths, narrow it down to the 3 things you’re most proud of. Be self-aware but not too modest. It’s totally okay to say that you’re a talented writer or a great programmer, and being confident will impress your interviewer.

Pro tip: Be creative! You might be awesome at punctuality, but your interviewer has probably heard that from lots of other candidates already. Instead, figure out what sets you apart and lead with that. For example, if you’re applying for a position where you’ll be managing projects and you have previous project management experience, this is a great time to mention that!

Give concrete examples.

Once you’ve figured out your top 3 strengths, come up with 1-2 examples to back up each one. If you’re going to say that one of your greatest strengths is being organized, then make sure you have evidence to prove that. Preparing a script of this can be a good idea. In addition to making you more comfortable with your answer, it’ll also help you sound more authentic because you’ll be confident that the things you’re talking about are things you’re really great at.

Say something like: “I’m really strong at communication, leadership and project management. Whenever I’m working on a group project, I naturally take on the role of project manager, leading the team by assigning tasks and making sure that everyone knows what they’re responsible for. At my last internship, I was asked to manage a project involving our team of interns. I took the lead on assigning tasks to the team and used the project management platform Trello to ensure that everyone was up to speed on what was expected of them. I also made sure that team members were communicating with each other on a daily basis so that we didn’t fall behind.”

Relate your strengths back to the job.

Once you’ve outlined your strengths and given solid examples of how you display them, wrap up your answer by connecting your strengths back to the position you’re applying for. You don’t need to focus on how your strengths relate to the job specifically (since this can sound too practiced), but do mention why these skills would make you an asset to any team.

Say something like: “We were able to complete the project on time and under budget, delivering a successful solution that our manager was able to share with a client. This made me realize that project management, leadership and communication are things I’m good at, and I’m excited to continue applying those skills in a professional setting.”

Here’s how to bring it all together:

“I’m really strong at communication, leadership and project management. Whenever I’m working on a group project, I naturally take on the role of project manager, leading the team by assigning tasks and making sure that everyone knows what they’re responsible for. At my last internship, I was asked to manage a project involving our team of interns. I took the lead on assigning tasks to the team and used the project management platform Trello to ensure that everyone was up to speed on what was expected of them. I also made sure that team members were communicating with each other on a daily basis so that we didn’t fall behind. We were able to complete the project on time and under budget, delivering a successful solution that our manager was able to share with a client. This made me realize that project management, leadership and communication are things I’m good at, and I’m excited to continue applying those skills in a professional setting.”

Answering “What are your strengths?” is a great chance to highlight the things you’re great at and to show a potential employer that you’ve thought about what will make you a great addition to the team. Even if the interviewer doesn’t ask this question directly, finding a way to relate your strengths to the job you’re applying for is a key component of impressing the interviewer. By coming up with your top 3 strengths and giving thoughtful examples of each, you’ll have no problem showing that you’re the best person for the job.

 

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Use Social Media to Network Online and find answers to common interview questions such as Are You Willing to Travel?

What is An Interview?

Whether you’re applying for your first internship or an entry-level job after graduation, starting a job search is all about finding out what you need to succeed. Once you’ve created a strong resume and written a great cover letter, it’s time to learn about the next step in the process: the interview.

Even if you’ve never had an interview before, chances are you have some idea of what it involves — meeting with an employer and convincing them that you’re the best person for the job. That’s definitely the gist of it, but there’s more to it than that. Interviews are also a good opportunity to assess whether you’ll be happy in the role and working at the company.

Here are some other things you need to know about the interview process.

Why you’re being interviewed

Being invited for an interview is an honor in and of itself. It means that the employer is impressed by your resume and thinks you’re probably qualified for the position. The interview is the next step in the hiring process and a chance for them to find out whether you really are a good fit for the company and the role.

The best way to think of an interview is as a focused conversation where you and the hiring manager are exchanging information in order to come to a decision. For the interviewer, this means learning more about your experience, skill set, and personality. For you as a candidate, it means finding out about the employer’s needs and showing how you can add value if they decide to bring you on as part of the team. It’s also a chance to you to determine whether the role is right for you and whether the company is a place where you would really learn to thrive.

How to prepare for an interview

Whether it’s your first interview or your 10th, preparation is key. This involves knowing how to talk about your experience and skills, and also being aware of questions the interviewer is likely to ask. Since employers are essentially trying to find out things that weren’t included in your application, like whether you’re a good communicator or natural leader, the questions they ask will focus on these main points. While you can’t anticipate every question, you should prepare answers for a few of the most common ones like “Tell me about yourself” and “What are your strengths?”

Doing your research on the company and the position is also extremely important. This will allow you to show how your skills align with the role and to ask the interviewer in-depth questions that will help both parties come to a decision. For example, this is a great chance to learn about some of the challenges the company has encountered and what gaps they’d like the ideal candidate to fill.

Pro Tip: Interviews are a two-way street with you and the hiring manager mutually evaluating each other. Although it’s important to be enthusiastic and eager about landing the job, don’t be afraid to ask questions that will help you assess how well the job fits you.

Although it’s normal to be a little nervous if you’ve never had an interview before (or even if you have), with the right research and preparation you’ll be able to handle yourself with confidence and prove that you’re the best candidate for the job.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Be a Team Player and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell Me About a Time You Failed.

What is a Panel Interview?

Whether you’ve just started looking for a job or you’ve already had several interviews, at some point during your job search you may encounter a panel interview. What is a panel interview? It’s an interview where you’re meeting with a group of people at once (typically between 2-5) and answering questions posed by all of them. It’s important to note that panel interviews are different from back-to-back interviews where you meet with one person after another on a one-on-one basis. Instead, a panel interview means meeting several decision makers at the same time and it’s designed to do three things: save the interviewers’ time, assess how well candidates handle pressure and ensure that the hiring decision is a collective one.

Although a panel interview may sound a bit intimidating at first, with a little preparation it’s possible to highlight your impressive qualities and make a great connection with each of the people who are evaluating you. Panel interviews also offer you a chance to explain your background and experience in more detail, touching on some points that you might not have a chance to mention otherwise.

Here are the three main things you need to know about panel interviews.

1. What the panelists are looking for

Like a one-on-one interview, the interviewers are trying to assess a few key factors like your ability to do the job and whether you’re a good culture fit. By structuring the interview as a panel, they also want to gauge your ability to communicate ideas to an entire group and to address concerns at both the individual and collective level.

In order to address the panel’s questions and demonstrate confidence, focus on the following things as you prepare your answers.

Your experience and skill set

If you’re a recent graduate applying for an entry-level job, you won’t be expected to have a lot of professional experience but you will be expected to show that you understand the role and its requirements. To demonstrate your understanding, talk about your skill set and how it applies to the position. For example, if you’re applying for a job in the financial services industry, you can mention things you picked up during economics or business classes in college, like an understanding of financial markets or quantitative reasoning. And if you do have experience in the form of an internship, this is a great time to mention it!

 Your personality and how it fits into the company culture

With companies increasingly focusing on cultural fit as part of the hiring process, panel interviews are an opportunity for decision makers to ask questions about the kind of environment you thrive in and the types of people you like to work with. In order to show that you’re a cultural fit at the organization, it’s important to research the company beforehand and then to respond to questions from panelists in a way that shows that you understand the company culture.

Pro Tip: Engaging the panel both collectively and as individuals is a great way of showing that you’re able to communicate effectively with everyone on the team and to address concerns each person may have. For example, if you’re asked how you would handle reporting to several managers, mention that you would schedule weekly meetings with all of them and then ask what they’re each looking for in an ideal candidate.

 2. Who is likely to be on the panel

Panel interviews usually consist of a combination of people from different parts of the company. A few people you’re likely to encounter during a panel interview are:

  • Your future manager
  • A future co-worker (mostly likely from the team you’ll be joining)
  • A manager or team member from another area of the company who will be working closely with your team
  • A human resources professional from the organization

Pro Tip: Try to memorize everyone’s name and titles. It will help you navigate the interview more effectively and ensure that you’re connecting with all the members of the panel.

3. When you’re likely to encounter a panel interview

While you should be prepared to encounter a panel interview in almost any industry, these types of interviews are more common in certain fields than others. For example, government agencies, academic institutions and nonprofit organizations are more likely to have panel interviews than small companies like tech startups or media agencies. The industries where you’re most likely be invited to this type of interview are:

  • Academic institutions including schools and universities
  • Nonprofit organizations (especially those that are national or global)
  • Financial services and consulting companies
  • Government agencies

Although panel interviews can seem intimidating at first, they can actually be a wonderful way to understand the culture and dynamics of a company and to impress multiple people at once. Like individual interviews, the key is to do your research ahead of time and to practice your answers so that you’re able to answer confidently while addressing the group as a whole.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How Do I Get a Job in Another City or State? and find answers to common interview questions such as Why Did You Choose to Attend This University or College?