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5 common interview questions (and how to answer them)

Whether you're trying to land your first internship or preparing for college app season, navigating interviews can be a bit daunting. Maybe the idea of trimming your life experience into curated responses seems like a challenge, or having to talk about yourself with a stranger gives you the jitters. But just like how you mastered the ABC's or memorized every lyric and ad-lib of "All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version)," you'll get the hang of the interview process after a few trial runs.

Our advice? Practice these five common interview questions with a BFF, family member or, yep, even your pup before you head in for your first interview. You've *so* got this!

1. "Tell me about yourself."

Your resume might neatly list your extracurriculars and awards in chronological order, but when getting to know someone, it's so much more engaging to hear the details from their own mouth. Your interviewer is a person too, and they want to know more about you.

One common format is the "past-present-future" structure. If you're applying to be a camp counselor, you might mention how you discovered your love for working with kids through babysitting your younger sis. You might talk about developing your leadership abilities as a captain on your sports team and express why you want to be a counselor.

This question might seem open-ended, but you don't have to tell your whole life story. Keep it brief—around a minute or two is fine.

2. "What are your strengths?"

One way to approach this question is by taking a look at the job description and applying the traits they're looking for to yourself. Say you're applying for a part-time job at your town's boutique. If the job application says that the manager wants someone detail-oriented, you could tell her about how you use a planner to track your deadlines in advance...or how meticulous you are when editing your school's paper.

3. "What can you contribute to our organization?"

Think about how your hard and soft skills can fit into what the company does. Hard skills are acquired through teaching and practice and help you to complete a task. If you're applying to a social media internship, mention that Canva is your playground and that you make weekly graphics for your youth group's Insta feed.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are interpersonal skills that you use when interacting with others. These are also worth mentioning, like how you can tailor your words to different audiences when you volunteer at the local preschool. 

4. "How would the people around you describe you?"

Use your close friends and family as a resource: Ask your mom, teachers and BFFs for some inspo. During the interview, describe how those traits can help you in the position. Maybe your friends are always telling you how understanding and empathetic you are. These characteristics are crucial if you are looking for a customer service job. Your interviewer will appreciate hearing how the patience and listening skills you developed in your school's Women's Rights Club will help you when dealing with a customer who thinks you got their boba order wrong.

5. "Do you have any questions for me?"

Pro tip: Always. Ask. A. Question. When you ask your interviewer specific questions, you show that you are genuinely interested in the nature of their organization. Ask about something that can't be answered on the company's website or Google. For example, at the end of an interview for a daycare job, you might ask your interviewer how they would deal with a shy kid on their first day.

Looking for your first job or internship? Check out our resume tips HERE!
(Psst: Wanna intern at Girls' Life? Click HERE to learn more!)

What's your dream job? Let us know on Twitter @girlslifemag!

Slider and hero images: Unsplash
All GIFs via GIPHY

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by Elizabeth Huang | 1/9/2022
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