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How to Prepare for Any Interview – The Top (and the Only) Three Questions You Need to Know!

By Anna Salas

In preparing for upcoming interviews, you may feel overwhelmed by the possibility of being asked any of a number of hundreds of interview questions that recruiters have asked potential employees in the past. “Describe a situation where you had to talk to someone or a group who was causing a problem” or “Does making decisions give you satisfaction?” are just two possibilities of questions that could be thrown at you while you’re in the hot seat. And we can’t underscore the importance of such questions. As the saying goes, “The resume gets the interview, the interview gets the job”. Therefore, many of you may be slightly relieved to learn a secret that top recruiters are just now revealing – out of these hundreds of questions of so many styles, techniques, and formats, there are really only THREE true job interview questions out there. I know it may be hard to believe, but the many questions that we’ve all sweated over can be summed up to three subsets of questions that examine Strengths, Motivation, and Fit.

The three questions (as detailed by George Brandt in his post on LinkedIn) are:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Will you love the job?
  3. Can we tolerate working with you?

The question “Can you do the job?” seeks to examine your technical competencies, ability to lead, and people skills. Your ability to do the job hinges not only on your ability to complete your job responsibilities, but also on how and if you are able to bounce back from stressful experiences and failures. Additionally, recruiters are interested in whether you are able to get along with and communicate effectively with others.

“Will you love the job?” looks at your motivation and passion for the job. Typically, the greater interest and excitement an employee has about a position, the harder and more efficiently that employee is going to work, which explains why recruiters want to ensure that you are passionate about the job.

The last question, “Can we tolerate working with you?” delves into how well you will be able to fit into a company’s culture and environment. The recruiter will want to get a feel for who you are and where you are going to fit in within the company’s organizational and social structure because a good fit between employee and organization can in many cases mean a higher employee retention rate.

The key in recognizing and answering these top three questions, which will be embedded into other less identifiable questions, is preparation. Try to come up with examples of real-life experiences that demonstrate your strengths, along with what it is about the position and the company that inspires and interests you (and why you think you would be a good fit), and values/attitudes you possess that appear to be aligned with that of the company.

So, how can one prepare for an interview? UNC Charlotte students and alumni (who graduated 0-3 years ago) can schedule a mock interview with their Career Advisor, who will assist them in practicing and developing strategies for navigating these tough questions. Mock interviews are typically an hour long and students have the option to be videotaped via webcam. This is a great opportunity for students to practice and polish their interviewing skills before the actual interview occurs. Mock interviews are available year round, so contact the University Career Center today to schedule your mock interview!

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