When I first saw an article in Forbes that distills all of the dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of possible job interview questions down to only three, I was skeptical.

Three?

I could give you twenty without thinking at all and probably fifty given a half an hour.

So what are the three questions?

1. Can you do the job?
2. Will you love the job?

3. Can we tolerate working with you?

Now think about it. No matter how typical or odd your specific interview questions are, they are all trying to find out these three things.

Hiring Managers can see from your resume what your hard skills are; after all you have used them in previous jobs (unless you are transitioning to another field). But their job isn’t exactly like your old job, it is unique. Can you do their specific job:

What are your strengths?

Tell me about a time when you had to overcome an obstacle and what you did to do so.

What would you do in this hypothetical situation?

All of these questions really mean, “can you do the job?” They are trying to make sure your strengths match their needs, you are able to solve problems that might arise at their company, and how you handle a situation that might arise for their company.

Will you love the job?:

What is your ideal job and where?

What 3 things can you not live without?

What keeps you motivated?

Are you doing what you love or what pays the bills?

That last one, as we talked about in our Proust Questionnaire post, is a tough one – but well worth thinking about.

Can we tolerate working with you? This applies to all culture questions – everything from “What is your definition of creative?” to “Do you believe in aliens?”

After all, if you fit, a company can—and might be willing to—train you to do their specific job.

And if you’re going to love the work, they know you will work hard and do your best every day.

But even if you have all the training and experience in the world and an exceptional passion for your work, if you don’t fit, you just don’t.

So find out as much as you can about the company and its culture. Know your career goals now and for the future. Hone and improve your skills any time you can. And be yourself in your interviews. A bad fit is no better for you than it is for your potential employer.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative