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  • MN Job Partners

Interviewing Techniques That Make You a Winner!

By Meg Gravelle, Minnesota Job Partners

Job interviews don’t have to be stressful. Relax. Think about it as a two-way conversation where you also get to interview the employer. Seize the opportunity to find out whether you want to work for them. Take command, be confident by being prepared.

Prepare your answers to these five commonly asked questions.

Tell me about yourself? This is most often the first question asked in a job interview. Your answer should be brief and focused. Make sure to include your skills and qualifications for the position. If it feels appropriate add some personal information such as a hobby, volunteer work, or where you live. The employer is trying to get to know you, so show your personality. Try to keep answers brief because the employer has set a time limit.

Why do you want to work here? Your response requires homework. Look at the employer’s website. What is the culture, what are they proud of, what is their product or service, who is their customer? How do your skills and experience apply to the company’s mission and the job you will be doing? This question is intended to determine if you will fit in with the company and the team. The best fit is someone who gets along with others, is cooperative, self-motivated, and confident.

Tell me about your last job and why you no longer work there? This can be tricky, especially if the previous employer let you go. But even a layoff or a confusing termination can be explained in a positive light. Avoid putting down your last employer. It is best to say you are looking for new opportunities where you can be challenged and grow your career.

Tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult coworker? The employer wants to hear how you solve problems. They also want assurance that you are not going to cause drama with coworkers. Make sure your story involves attempting to reconcile directly with the coworker before escalating to a manager.

What is your greatest weakness? Your response should show how you've used a weakness as motivation to learn a new skill and grow professionally. For example, how you’ve learned to use technology to manage projects and meet deadlines. Everyone has weaknesses – the employer doesn’t expect you to be perfect. They want to know if you have a healthy level of self-awareness. Employers want you to be open and honest, particularly about shortcomings. Assure them that you seek self-improvement and won’t let any weakness hold you back.


Answer all questions succinctly. The employer will ask if they want more information. By talking too much, they might assume you will waste time on the job.

Be comfortable with silence. No need to fill the air with chatter. All conversations have lulls and times of quiet.

Request a mock interview. Ask a friend or your career counselor for a practice interview. It’s a safe place to make mistakes and correct them.

Attend a workshop. Minnesota Job Partners will empower you to job hunt with clarity and confidence.


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