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Always Have the Perfect Response: Answers to the Most Feared Questions

Tell me about yourself! What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies? What are your strengths, your weaknesses? Have these questions already made your palms sweaty? Are you dreading what the next step is? Are you worried you might somehow answer them incorrectly? There’s no need to be scared, learn how to provide the perfect response and handle the world’s hardest questions with ease. Impress your interviewer, strangers, your friends, and even yourself. For the purpose of this article, responses will be interview based.


1. Tell me about yourself.

This question depends on the context of who asked you. The same answer won’t always work in every situation. What you would present in an interview isn’t the same thing you would give while on a date, meeting someone at a party, or even introducing yourself to someone’s parents.

In an interview, describe yourself in a way that gives the company a reason to hire you. When asked about yourself, state the experiences that give you an edge over the competition. Mention your successes, skills, and abilities. Don’t focus on the personal aspect, rather the professional. If you’re interviewing in an area that you went to school or grew up in, use it in the opening lines to show you’re loyal to the area.

Example: “To start, I went to school here in Location, State at College and studied Major/Minor. I’ve spent Number of Years in the city and it’s turned into my second home. I have an incredibly diverse experience of work that makes me adaptable to almost every situation. It ranges from retail, to the food industry, to office work, to start-ups, and more. Whenever a new challenge was presented I handled it head on and worked with those around me to make sure everyone was on the same track.” Expect the interviewer to ask you present an example of a time this happened, so make sure to be prepared.

Change the response based on the situation. If it’s casual, talk about yourself generally like where you grew up, went to school, and enjoy doing. If it’s more formal, stick to topics that relate directly to the situation.


2. What do you like to do in your free time?

This is a chance to be honest and show yourself as an authentic person. It may also be a test to make sure you fit in with the culture of the company. Not everyone will live a rich and fulfilling life full of stories that they are bursting at the seems to share. The new idea of fun is binging Netflix shows while eating McNuggets, but that doesn’t come across as well in an interview. Spice it up by thinking of authentic experiences you enjoy that prove you’re not only interesting to speak to, but that you’ll have something to talk about with your coworkers.

Example: “I’ve been really into watching Netflix lately. Nothing crazy, but I enjoy listening to their comedy specials while I’m cooking or cleaning the house. My favourite comedian so far is So-and-So, have you heard of them? Like I said, I enjoy listening while cooking. I’m always interested in trying different recipes that I see online or are sent to me by friends. When I’m not out enjoying a new restaurant around town, I like to make meals at home.”


3. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?

While some of the most dreaded questions, these can be the make or break of an interview and an opportunity to showcase your ability to think critically about yourself, and prove that you’re more than a stereotypical answer. Chances are the person you’re speaking with has heard strengths described as weaknesses, and the typical: hard worker, on time, team player keywords that can be found on a majority of resumes. Provide honest answers but finish with how you handle it.

Weakness Example: “While I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist, I have been known to get caught up in an assignment that I’m working on. It’s gotten in the way of deadlines before as I realized I spent too much time focused on a portion of a project. Because of this, I’ve begun setting alarm reminders to make sure I’m getting through my tasks on time and turned in when necessary or even early.”

Strength Example: “I have found that I work best in an individual environment. When I have the opportunity to sit down and focus on a task I’m efficient and effective in getting it accomplished.”


4. Why should I hire you?

This response is fairly similar to the one given after being asked to describe yourself, but more focused. Whereas you explained your experience and sold yourself in number 1, when asked why you should be hired, pinpoint the exact job and credentials the company is looking for. Are they hiring you for sales? To lead a team? To engineer a product? Pick out two or three key attributes from the job description to directly correlate your skills on.

Example: “My experience in leading teams has shown to be successful during my time at Previous Company (Insert story about how you successfully lead a team). Because of my success, management presented me with another opportunity to lead a team where (insert another story). In the end, the company was able to (insert direct result of your actions).”

If possible, bring papers and other items to showcase exactly what you’re talking about. Were your sales recorded? Are there graphs about how much money you helped the company save? Props help illustrate your point and prove to the interviewer that you’re serious, and not just spinning tales.


Amber Lauzé is a senior Entrepreneurial Studies and Management double major from Auburn, Maine. When not writing for HCXU, she can found at one of her many jobs, or hunting for her cat that likes to hide in blankets.
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