Let's face it. The college interview process is daunting. You spend hours upon hours tailoring your resume, writing up a cover letter, and filling out applications for various positions — yet nothing is as nerve-racking as sitting through an interview. Over the course of my time here at Alabama, I have applied for numerous jobs and leadership councils to be involved on campus. While I didn't know what to expect at first, I have gained experience through face-to-face interviews by forcing myself to apply to any position that sparked my interest.
Over time, I found myself to be less and less anxious conversing with potential employers. College interviews shouldn't make you shy away from opportunities, but rather give you a chance to learn more about yourself and how your interests will contribute to an organization.
Below are 20 interview questions every college freshman should be able to answer with some advice on how to prepare for responses.
1. Tell me a little about yourself...
While this question seems simple, so many people fail to ask themselves what an employer is looking for based on personality and past experience. A key point in an interview is to let the company know how you separate yourself from other applicants. Avoid cliches and common descriptions. Be yourself!
2. Where are you from?
Telling the interviewer where you are from could spark up a conversation about travel. Your background of professional experience and where you have lived has an impact on your position. How far will you be willing to commute to work? Are you willing to relocate for the job?
3. Why are you interested in this position?
This is an important question you should definitely be prepared for. Companies and organizations want to know that you are interested in a position to seek applicants that are excited about being involved and want to be a part of a team.
4. What experience do you have?
Let the employer know about your past experiences to show that you are qualified for the position. This is a time to share more about yourself and how you would be a great asset to the company. Don't be afraid to brag about yourself!
5. What is your greatest strength?
When answering this question, it is important to be accurate, relevant, and specific. Once you have given details about your unique trait, follow up with a story on how you've demonstrated that strength in a professional setting.
6. What is your greatest weakness?
This question is often the hardest one to answer, but what companies are really wanting to know is how honest and self-aware you are of your weaknesses and how to improve. Never answer this question without an answer. Try to think of something you struggle with and find a way to showcase ways you seek to do better.
7. What would you contribute to our organization?
This question gives you a chance to explain what makes you stand out among other candidates. If you're asked what you will contribute to an organization, emphasize what you've accomplished and connected your answer to your employer's goals.
8. What do you know about the company/organization/council?
Make sure you read up about the company before you enter the interview. The company isn't trying to gauge whether you understand the mission but whether you care about it.
9. Why should we hire you?
There's no better set up for you to sell yourself to the company than in this question. Craft an answer that addresses how well you'll do the work, how you'll deliver results, and how you'll work with the team.
10. What is your greatest achievement?
Don't be shy when answering this question. Showcase what you've achieved by setting up the situation with a task that you were required to complete at a previous job and describe the action and results.
11. Tell me about a challenge you've been faced with and how you dealt with it.
Anyone can seem nice and pleasant in an interview, but you should be prepared to answer a question on how you respond to conflict. Be sure to focus on how you've handled a situation professionally and close with how you came to a resolution or compromise.
12. What's your dream job?
The interviewer wants to get a sense of whether or not this position will align with your career goals.
13. What's your major and why did you choose it?
Some companies and organizations ask about your college major to see your interests and what you expect to get out of the job. Who knows? Maybe an employer can lead you to your future career!
14. What type of work environment do you prefer?
Do you want to work in an office? Outdoors? In a lab? At a school? With a team? By yourself?
15. What's your leadership style?
Knowing your own leadership style helps an employer know how you will fit in with a team.
16. How would your boss and coworkers describe you?
Try to pull out your strengths and weaknesses you haven't talked about yet. Remember your future employer will be calling your listed references to hear about your character.
17. How well do you work under tight deadlines?
Most work projects need to be completed under tight deadlines in order to reach company goals. Employers don't want people who will be lazy when completing tasks.
18. What are your plans for the future?
Share your plans with your interviewer for them to understand what your goals and expectations are for the company. If you stay for a while, you may be able to apply for leadership and work your way up to a management position.
19. What is your availability?
This question is not only for the interviewer to schedule your availability but also to see your willingness to put in the hours to work and perform the job well.
20. Do you have any questions for us?
You'll cover a lot of ground in the interview itself, but don't be afraid to follow up with the employer asking questions that you may have to see if the job is right for you. Interviewers love personalized questions as well to share a little bit about themselves and their experience working.