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How to prep for common job interview questions

(MoneyWatch) Everyone knows about the weird questions you sometimes get in job interviews -- you know, stuff like, "How many quarters would you have to stack to reach the moon?" But while some companies use these questions to see how well you think on your feet, the reality is that you're still going to spend most of your interview time tackling traditional queries like "what are your greatest strengths" and "tell me about a time you had to manage a project that went off track."

So how do you prep for these kinds of questions?

Forbes' Jacqueline Smith has some advice, as follows:

Prepare a list of likely questions. Sort of like how you'd take a practice SAT before the real thing, you should collect the questions you think you might be asked and practice your responses to them.

Identify the company's needs. Remember that while the interview is about you, you'll only be hired if you can add value to the company. What do they need? What value can you offer? Do some homework and try to figure out what the hiring manager is trying to accomplish by hiring you.

Google yourself. What does the hiring manager know about you before you even walk through the door? If they're diligent, they know a lot more than just what you provided in your cover letter and resume. Check out what public information is available about you in blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites. In short, be prepared to be asked about your public identity.

Practice. Practice for the interview by role-playing. If you must, play both sides. Even better, enlist your spouse or a friend to play the role of interviewer to make the experience more realistic. Don't memorize responses to common questions, but rehearse your answers enough so that you can speak comfortably and extemporaneously.

Be positive. I can't personally emphasize enough how important this is. As a hiring manager, I am always more drawn to people who appear to be enthusiastic and energetic. And never trash-talk a former employer; put a positive spin on everything. You should be a "glass half full" person from start to finish.

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