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How Successful Women Answer Interview Questions

Source: Mizuno K | Pexels
Source: Mizuno K | Pexels

Very few things in life feel as good as being called in for a job interview. It’s like the universe is telling you that your countless hours of job searching and drafting the perfect cover letter and building a flawless resume paid off. However, that excitement can quickly fizzle out once you realize that you now have to go in and successfully answer interview questions if you want to get hired. Which begs the question: How do successful women answer interview questions?

While there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to nailing a job interview, there are a few tried-and-true rules that successful women swear by—like being gracious, humble, confident, and authentic. So if you’re getting ready to interview for a new job, don’t stress. Instead, take a deep breath and use this guide to prepare yourself, impress the hiring manager, and land your dream job. Keep on reading to learn how successful women answer interview questions.


1. Tell me about yourself.

Although this technically isn’t a question, it’s what hiring managers will usually kick off an interview with. It’s a way for them to get to know you better and see if you’re well-rounded and passionate. Which is why successful women respond with forethought and use their answer as an opportunity to pitch themselves. They’ll describe what inspired them to follow this career path and what they love about their job. Likewise, they’ll also include 2-3 achievements relevant to the position they’re applying for and what they like to do in their free time.

Sample answer from a successful woman: “As an only child, I’ve always loved connecting with others. This is what inspired me to study communications in college, and since graduating with my BA four years ago I’ve been working with company X as a marketing assistant. I love that I get to use my creativity to think outside the box and create content that reaches a wider audience and attracts more customers. Over the last year, our social media engagement has increased 50% and our ROI has increased 75%. I love what I do, but when I’m not working I enjoy reading and cooking new recipes for my friends and family.”


2. How did you hear about this position, and why did you apply?

Although this question is pretty straightforward, successful women wisely use it to display their interest in the company as well as their passion and excitement for the role. They’ll respond honestly and describe what specifically motivated them to put themselves out there.

Sample answer from a successful woman: “I learned about your company a few years ago after my friend raved about your products and ultimately inspired me to buy some for myself. I instantly understood the obsession and have been following the brand on social media ever since, which is where I saw that you were looking for a marketing assistant. Despite the fact that I wasn’t actively looking, I jumped at the opportunity to work alongside women at a woman-owned brand. I grew up in a male-dominated household and am extremely passionate about providing the resources and information I wish I had growing up to millions of women worldwide.”


3. What are your biggest strengths?

Business mentor and CEO Andrea Donnelly explained to me that this loaded question gives hiring managers a chance to see how you’re uniquely qualified for the role. For this reason, Donnelly said that successful women will use their background, life and career experiences, as well as their natural gifts, talents, education and training to answer this. Likewise, they’ll also use qualifications outlined in the job description or turn to the top strengths in their field to formulate their answer.

Of course, successful women know words are just words. So they also put their money where their mouth is and back up their answer with specific examples.

Sample answer from a successful woman: “My biggest strength is my communication skills. I seamlessly convey ideas over email, attract more people to the brand through strategic marketing campaigns, practice active listening, welcome all feedback, and will reach out and ask for guidance when needed. A few months ago, my manager told me that my draft for a lucrative ad campaign didn’t match up with the company’s vision. I then asked her if we could discuss what she was looking for more in-depth, and I used that conversation along with her initial feedback to tweak the draft. The campaign went on to be a major success, and my boss thanked me for asking questions and responding to her feedback so well.”


4. What’s your biggest weakness?

The fact that this is a standard interview question doesn’t negate the fact that it’s incredibly tricky to answer. After all, it seems counterproductive to point out a flaw to a potential employer—but successful women don’t look at it this way. Donnelly explained that they’ll answer this question honestly but frame it positively; they’ll clearly state what their biggest weakness is while effectively showing that they’re working to overcome it and improve.

Sample answer from a successful woman: “I can be a bit of a perfectionist sometimes and have had trouble meeting deadlines in the past as a result. To combat this, I started using a tomato timer to stay on track. And though I occasionally find myself getting lost in the details, I haven’t turned in a project late in over six months.”


5. Why is there a gap in your employment?

If you’ve ever seen a show about a woman who tries to find employment after time away from the workforce, you already know that hiring managers sometimes look down on gaps in employment. But successful women know life happens—careers change, motherhood calls, health issues arise, and so on. So rather than shy away from this question, successful women will answer honestly albeit briefly.

Sample answer from a successful woman: “I’ve learned that people are constantly growing and changing. I am not the same person I was when I decided to get my teaching degree at 18. I quickly realized that this wasn’t the right career for me after I graduated and started teaching high school English; I love mentoring others, but I came to the conclusion that I want to do it through a different medium, so I started freelancing on the side to build my resume and feel confident enough now to make this my full-time career.”


6. How do you overcome challenges in the workplace?

Hiring managers know that dealing with challenges at work is inevitable, and they ask this question to see how you respond to difficult situations and pressure. Successful women know this, which is why they view challenges as learning opportunities, and they’ll convey exactly that during their interview.

Sample answer from a successful woman: “I work well under pressure and enjoy taking on multiple projects at once. However, a few months ago I was exhausted from juggling too much and forgot to add a crucial detail into one of our ad campaigns. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the mistake until the post started circulating on the internet, but as soon as I saw it, I reached out to my manager and performed damage control, creating a new campaign from scratch. Our ad sales didn’t suffer thanks to my timely response, and I now prioritize setting realistic expectations and getting plenty of sleep to prevent making a mistake like that again.”


7. Are you a team player?

Successful women know the value of a well-rounded team. They relish the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded people (especially other women) and will make sure the interviewer knows this by providing an example of when they shined working as a team.

Sample answer from a successful woman: “Nothing makes me happier than collaborating with and bouncing ideas off of other people, and this inspires and motivates me to produce the best work possible. I teamed up with another marketing assistant at my last job for an ad campaign and together, we created a hybrid-marketing campaign that generated 100% ROI on the company’s initial investment.”


8. Are you a risk-taker?

On the outside, it may seem as though there’s risk-takers and those who like to play it safe, but successful women know better. Nothing’s black and white or without risk, which is why they’ll explain how they take calculated risks at work. They’re not afraid to take chances when the odds are in their favor, which is essential for breaking ground and continuing to smash through that glass ceiling.

Sample answer from a successful woman: “Everything in life has risks and I believe in managing them correctly. I try to put out feelers before pouring money into a larger campaign to see how customers react and will also use data to determine what consumers respond best to. While this isn’t foolproof, I’ve found it to be an effective risk-management strategy.”


9. Why are you leaving your current job?

This is another loaded question most hiring managers will throw into an interview. While there is no right answer, successful women will answer as honestly as they can without trash-talking their former employer, boss, and coworkers. Instead, they’ll focus on putting the reason for their departure on themselves, and make it clear that they are not the kind of employee who will jump ship after a few months or leave when the going gets tough.

Sample answer from a successful woman: “I’m extremely grateful to company X, and I learned a lot and am proud of what I achieved during my time there. However, I felt as though I’d outgrown my role and there unfortunately wasn’t any more room to scale up. After looking at all the options available to me, it became clear that the best move for my career would be to look elsewhere.”


10. Why should we hire you?

This humble-brag question gives you another opportunity to sell yourself, but successful women don’t fall into the trap of overselling themselves. Instead, they’ll focus on highlighting their key qualifications and passion for the role and how they’ll benefit the company. Likewise, they’ll also throw in some personal experiences to explain why they’re the perfect fit.

Sample answer from a successful woman: “Words hold power and pictures are worth a thousand words, which is why I believe in crafting ad campaigns with care. The mistakes I made at the beginning of my career showed me that things can easily get lost in translation when they’re not handled correctly, and I take it seriously when a company trusts me to relay a specific message. I believe that this, along with my experience working as a marketing assistant over the last four years, ability to adapt quickly, work in a fast-paced environment and manage time efficiently, makes me uniquely qualified for the role, and I’m excited for the opportunity to help build your brand into something bigger than it is today.”


11. Do you have any questions for us?

While it may seem silly to ask questions about a job you don’t have, successful women know that responding correctly to this one is crucial. They know that hiring managers are looking for someone who’s curious about what the job fully entails, which is why they’ll ask questions about the job as if they already have it.

Questions a Successful Woman Might Ask a Hiring Manager:

  • What does a regular day in this company look like?
  • What’s the best and worst thing about working for the company?
  • What would you say are the biggest challenges a person in this position might face?
  • What are the most important skills and qualities one must have to succeed in this position?
  • What are the most pressing issues and projects that need to be addressed?
  • Do you have training programs available to employees?
  • What kind of opportunities do you have for future development?
  • Do departments usually collaborate with one another?
  • Is there anything else I can help you with at this stage?
  • What is the next step in the hiring process?