You’ve landed an interview with your ideal employer — congratulations! Now it’s time to prepare for the interview.
The 10 questions below provide opportunities to present your best self and place the focus on your skills, your energy and the value you would bring to the employer.
See also: How to ace the interview.
It’s a good idea to practice your responses, either with friends or family or by yourself in front of a mirror. It will help put you at ease during the actual interview.
The AARP Work Resources Web page has great tools and tips on managing your job search. In the meantime, read on for tips on handling tough interview questions.
1. Tell me about yourself. Make your answer short and sweet. Stick to skills and experience that relate to the specific job for which you’re applying. Resist the impulse to stress your years of experience. It’s more important to talk about your skills and achievements that show you can deliver. Emphasize your flexibility and positive, work-related attitude.
2. Why are you looking for a job? Keep it brief. A straightforward answer is best. For example, “My organization was forced to downsize.” Avoid negative statements about yourself, your work or your ability to get along with others. Never criticize former employers or coworkers.
3. You haven’t worked for a long time. Why not? You may have gaps in employment for many reasons. Be honest. Speak confidently about the experience you gained during the gaps that could transfer to on-the-job skills. For instance, if you were a caregiver, you likely managed complex personal finance issues. As a volunteer, you might have worked with diverse groups and managed challenging schedules.
4. What are you looking for? It takes a lot of thinking to be ready for this question. Avoid speaking in generalities. Be prepared to talk about the kind of work you’re interested in doing and how your skills translate to the employer’s needs.
5. Aren’t you overqualified for this position? Even though overqualified can be shorthand for "old" or "expensive", it’s important to stay positive. Express your enthusiasm for the job and pride in your qualifications. Explain what makes you interested in this position at this point in your career — such as wanting to apply your skills to a new field, not wanting any management responsibilities, or to achieve more flexibility and work-life balance.