If you've ever been on an interview, you know the deal. There are standard questions that get asked and you feel like you've got your answers in the bag. You've heard these questions a thousand times, right?
Just because you're familiar with interview questions doesn't mean you should rifle through your mental filing cabinet and pull out the same answer you've given everyone. Some of these questions seem innocent but your answers speak volumes to the hiring managers. Don't mess them up by assuming these are just checkboxes on their question list. They're asking for a reason, so your answer had better be good enough.
Q1: What are your salary requirements?
It seems straightforward, but it can be tricky if you're asking for too much or too little. Nobody wants to be the first to throw out a number, especially early on in the process when you have yet to convince them that you are the perfect fit. But here's the thing – you both have a number in mind and those numbers are probably (at least a little) different.
If they ask what your current salary is, you should be honest. If asked for the salary you're seeking, say that salary is important but you're really looking for the right role at the right company. If you're pushed to name a specific amount, say that you'll take all components of a compensation package into account (base pay, bonuses, stock, and paid time off), and give a range. Then you won't be nailed to a specific number, and neither side will feel like there isn't a possibility of compromise.
Q2: What will your references say about you?
All positive things. Do not bring up anything negative, even if you think a reference might be a little too honest. You should be calm, collected, and confident in an interview, and your reference probably would not have agreed if they had plans to portray you in a negative light.
Q3: Why do you want to work here?
This answer needs to be a cornucopia of information and thoughts. Err too much on the "you guys seem like a great team" side and they'll think you're coasting, and spewing facts about the company will make them think you're trying too hard. Don't focus on the perks and salary. Go with an answer that speaks to the company's core values (you read those on their website, right?) – if the company is mission- or cause-based, tell them why you care about it. It doesn't hurt to refer to any past work or projects they've done, but don't go crazy with the details. They want you to fit into the company culture as much as they want you to care about the company, so keep your response as balanced as possible.