Post #11 Answering Interview Questions
You should prepare yourself to answer these basic interview questions. This list of interview questions is not all inclusive, but it is a solid list to start thinking about. I am offering ideas to help you prepare your own answers. Please be sure you read Post #10 first if you have not already done so; it may offer a new perspective about your upcoming interviews. Below are four common interview questions along with some guidelines to help you formulate your own genuine answers.
“Tell me about yourself.”
Despite the cliché question, think about how you’d like to answer it. The great thing about this question is that it is so open-ended, it is difficult to screw it up. If you don’t like talking about yourself, or if you’re not used to talking about yourself, then practice stating your answers out loud. You can discuss personality traits, hobbies, courses, family, accomplishments, strengths, weaknesses…there is no wrong answer here! And practice the art of telling others about you; this will be a lifelong skill you should work toward developing as a student.
“Why do you want to work here?”
Talk about cliché, this question is popular among interviewers so you should also be prepared for this one. It is not necessary to try and dazzle the interviewer with sales statistics or stock performance data. Think about some personal values that are meaningful to you, pick one and articulate how you admire the employer’s approach to this topic. For example, talk about their unique products, their great working environment, their happy employees, their variety of professional opportunities, their company growth, their commitment to giving back to the environment, or their stance on research and development. This, of course, will require some diligent research on your part.
“Can you explain this D or F on your transcript?”
Firstly: relax. It is okay if you have a D or an F (or more than one), many engineering students do! Secondly, if you qualify for this question, it is the perfect chance to show the employer how you can shine! You do not need to cover up the truth or deceive the interviewers. In fact, what you want to do is to be completely honest. Did you have a death in the family that particular semester? An illness? Perhaps you fell into a downward spiral or you allowed distractions to take over your life. Or, maybe you were still learning what it meant to be an engineering student. You are only human, and you are always going to make mistakes. This question opens the door for a very strong finish since you can discuss your lessons learned and how you have since grown.
“What kind of leadership skills do you have?”
Not every student leaps toward opportunities to lead organizations, teams, committees or the like. Some students are perfectly fine participating but not leading, and if this you then that’s okay! There are plenty of ways to display your leadership qualities without having earned an official leadership title. Different ideas you can discuss include: explain how you ended a semester on a very strong note after a weak start; talk about how you kept yourself together during a very difficult time in your life; proudly note how your grades suffered minimally after you decided to get a part time job; discuss how you overcame a difficult upbringing to land yourself in engineering school. Perhaps you overcame a serious illness or accident or you had to care for a family member. Maybe your hard work earned you a scholarship. Find any challenging life situation that required mental toughness, then use it as the basis to discuss your struggles, strategies and accomplishments. The interviewer will appreciate an unfortunate story that ended on a good note!