How to Anticipate Interview Questions
This is part of the “Preparing for a Successful Higher Education Job Interview” blog series that will equip you with the tools and techniques to feel confident and ready. Thanks to Sharon Justice, career and leadership expert, for putting together these helpful and practical tips.
To prepare for interview questions you may be asked, begin by going through the job description to see what qualifications and skills the employer is seeking. In the sample job description below, areas to look at include:
- Facilitation of recruitment, yield, and transition programs
- Recruiting students
- Travel extensively
- Working extended hours
- Organizational and analytical skills
- Oral and written communication skills
- Communicating effectively with others
You’ll want to provide examples of these highlights, and perhaps look through your data and statistics for concrete examples. Once you have a list of anticipated questions, you can do your homework by creating STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) answers.
Other questions you might be asked:
Don’t forget about the basic interview questions. These serve as a foundation for the rest of your interview.
- Tell me about yourself
- Why do you want this job
- Why you are the right candidate for this job
- Tell me about a time when…
The art of answering a weakness question
Don’t think you can fool the interviewer by disguising your strength as a weakness. “I work too much” is not really a weakness because it can be interpreted as working too hard. You want to identify an actual weakness, like procrastination or pushing deadlines, then refer to it in a formula.
The weakness formula
- What’s your weakness?
- How did you identify your weakness?
- What are you doing to work on it?
- Why is it important for you to correct it?
Example: “My weakness is procrastination. I realized that when I was missing deadlines and feeling stressed about putting difficult things off to the last minute. I decided that I needed to be better about procrastination, so I created a calendar and decided that everyday I’d do my most difficult task. My team relies on me and I need to do my part. I don’t want to be the last one involved.”
Practice, Practice, Practice
There’s a fine line between practicing to be comfortable and memorizing answers. Memorization is only surface level and won’t help you during a brain freeze. It’s best to practice, prepare, and be comfortable.
How to practice
Use the STAR format. Write S-T-A-R along the side of a page, and for each of the experience factors on the job description, write out at least 10 scenarios or answers to 10 behavioral questions.
Be ready for the basic interview questions:
- Why are you interested in this job?
- If you’re employed, why do you want to leave your current job?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What do you bring to this job?
- Why should you be hired?
Practice out loud and over. The more you say it, the better it will roll off the tongue. Your responses will sound more natural the more you practice.
Notes to Have Handy for the Interview (Virtual or In-Person)
- Scenarios to prompt you — Use a few words to jog your memory when you freeze up. Also have a pen with you to take notes on multi-part questions. This will help you stay on track and give you time to think. It’s okay to pause for a few seconds to gather your thoughts before you answer. Interviewers prefer that over immediate answers that might miss the mark.
- Questions to ask — Depending on the length of the interview, you might need a few or many questions. Be prepared either way.
About the Expert
Sharon Justice has worked for over 30 years in various industry sectors focused on strategically growing businesses while equipping leaders and individuals for success. She currently serves as a Leadership Faculty Member at East Carolina University. She offers customized leadership development programs and strategic business consulting through Justice Leadership.