As we all know, part of the interview process is an exploration into the essential chemistry that exists between people, something no one can prepare for by practicing interview questions. This tends to be the most difficult aspect of any screening process for both interviewer/interviewee alike. After all, you are who you are. We often see questions that arise time and time again because they are believed to ‘work.’ It is, therefore, best practice to be aware of these four questions and be ready to provide the best possible answers to put you in the most positive light. They are standard questions asked of everyone, but truly a chance for you to shine – if your answers are winners.  

Use this guide as a refresher before every interview to be sure you always start with the ball in your court. Be sure to have details and flesh out each answer as it pertains to your personal and professional experience. Think of your answers from the interviewer’s perspective, as they are trying to ascertain why you would be a benefit to their team and provide value above and beyond your pay rate. Be direct and brief, but be sure to elaborate on each to demonstrate mastery of the logic behind the questions, don’t just give answers that will get you quickly to the next question.  

We have had a number of qualified applicants; why should we give you the job? 

If you even think of saying you need money, the commute works, or you need health insurance, show yourself to the door immediately. You lose. A hire is ultimately an investment in both the company and in you specifically, and the money comes directly from that hiring manager’s budget. Think of it as their wallet – if they hire you, they’ll be taking money out of their pocket to pay for you, expecting some value in return. They will choose the candidate whom they see as providing the most value in return for themselves and the company, not just someone who needs a job. There are many items on the shelves, and many stores to shop in, so you need to relate what makes you the best all-around choice for their dollar.  

So how do you do this? Demonstrate a passion for learning new skills and increasing your existing skills. Telltales of personal productivity and mastery of tasks. Talk positively about the future and areas you would like to move into, speak of your goals. Discuss the positive impact that personal and professional relationships have provided, and talk about times in your career in which you have excelled.  Interject some of the best things you have learned to date about the company culture and relate those positives to your own personal and professional growth objectives. As they say, “Be the Ball” and think like the person the interviewer wants you to be. Nail this question and the interviewer’s job is, essentially, done. 

What attracted you to the job and this company? 

This question is merely an extension of the prior question. The interviewer is looking to see if you took the time to do your research. If you fail to show a basic understanding of the company and the job requirements, you have already lost. Demonstrating advanced knowledge of the company shows your commitment to a strong work ethic – that you took the time to do your research means you can be self-directed and get things done. In areas where things are unclear (job duties, divisions of the company that may be off the radar) you can speak to the knowledge you have gained in your research while directly asking for minor clarifications along the way. The more you know walking into the interview, the better, so there is no excuse not to have done a good deal of research on your own. Check Linkedin to understand the background of the executive team, look at the stock history of the company to understand their performance over time, read articles on new products and Google recent news stories about the organization.  

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

Alternatively, three years, or even ten years, the number is irrelevant. The interview is very simply asking about your motivation and career aspirations. If you say “I do not think about it,” “I do not know” or “That is too far in the future” you’ve just lost. The interviewer wants to know that you care enough about yourself to think about your future, to be ready and willing to take on new challenges and challenge yourself to grow professionally. Whether you answer that you’ll be CEO of the company or you see yourself as the best contributor on the entire team is up to you, but you must project confidence in your abilities to thrive, adapt and grow. You expect a raise in your salary regularly, and employers expect that you will improve your standing within the company and become more valued as time goes on. So the answer may be up to your background and capabilities, but much like real estate, there is an appreciation of value over time.  

Do you have any questions for me? 

Never, ever, ever say “I think you have answered them all” or “Nope.” If you did, you just proved yourself to be ubiquitous, another brick in the wall, easily forgettable. This question is a proven chance to stand out, to demonstrate an understanding of all of the moving pieces: the job responsibilities, the company culture, the team dynamics. Don’t be afraid to take a chance here, ask smart, and perhaps even challenging questions. It is one of your only times to demonstrate to the