Frequently asked interview questions: how to answer
The most frequently asked interview questions
For anyone who has been jobless for quite some time will know that being invited for an interview is a big deal. Most of the time people fail to get the job positions due to how unprepared they were and how badly they responded to the interview questions. Here are a few tips on how you can answer the most commonly asked interview questions.
Tell me about yourself
Now, this has to be the most asked and normally the first question the interviewer will ask. This is one of the first questions you are likely to be asked. Be prepared to talk about yourself, and why you’re an excellent fit for the job. Try to answer questions about yourself without giving out too much, or too little, personal information. You can start by sharing some of your personal interests and experiences that don’t relate directly to work, such as a favorite hobby or a brief account of where you grew up, your education, and what motivates you. You can even share some fun facts and showcase your personality to make the interview a little more interesting.
Alternatively, if you are not the type of divulging too much information about yourself, you can answer in the order of past-present-future. Begin with a brief overview of where you are now (which could include your current job along with a reference to a personal hobby or passion), reference how you got to where you are (here you could mention education, or an important experience such as a past job, internship or volunteer experience) and then finish by touching on a goal for the future.
Why should we hire YOU?
This is clearly a differentiation question. What you want to tell them is: they’d be crazy not to hire you. This is not the time to be modest although neither should you be conceited. Make your response a confident, concise, focused sales pitch that explains what you have to offer the employer, and why you should get the job. This is another good time to review the qualifications and the requirements in the job listing, so you can craft a response that aligns with what the interviewer is looking for.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Employers don’t necessarily care to hear that you expect to climb the corporate ladder and be a supervisor. If the job you’re interviewing for is not a supervisor, they probably aren’t concerned about your management skills. You can share how you’ve been a mentor to others and led projects with little to no supervision. That should indicate you have leadership potential.
What is your greatest strength?
When you are asked about your greatest strengths, it’s important to discuss the attributes that will qualify you for the specific job and set you apart from the other candidates. Take the time before the job interview to make matches between your qualifications and the requirements as stated in the job announcement. This way, you will have examples ready at hand to demonstrate your suitability for the job.
It can be helpful to remember the tip “show, don’t tell.” For example, rather than stating that you are an excellent problem solver, instead tell a story that demonstrates this, ideally drawing on an anecdote from your professional experience.
Why are you leaving or why have you left your job?
When asked about why you are moving on from your current position, stick with the facts, be direct, and focus your interview answer on the future, especially if your leaving wasn’t under the best of circumstances. Always try to put a positive slant on your response; it’s better to give the impression that you’re more motivated by the possibility of new opportunities than by trying to escape a bad situation. In addition, it’s important to avoid bashing your current organization, colleagues or supervisor.
An employer is not likely to want to bring on someone who talks negatively about a company.
What are your salary expectations?
It seems like a simple question, but your answer can knock you out of the contest for the job if you overprice yourself. If you under-price yourself, you may get shortchanged with a lower offer. Review the best way to answer questions about salary so you get the fair pay that you deserve.
Why do you want this job?
This question gives you an opportunity to show the interviewer what you know about the job and the company, so take the time before the interview to thoroughly research the company and its products or services, company culture, and mission. Be specific about what makes you a good fit for this role, and mention aspects of the company and position that appeal to you the most.
When can you start?
Be careful about this question for several reasons:
It doesn’t mean that you have “landed the job.” They may be just checking to add that to their notes. You must keep your guard up until you are in your car and driving away from the interview.
If you are currently employed, you should be honest about the start date and show professionalism. You should tell them you would have to discuss a transition with your current company to see if they require a two-week notice (or some other timing). If you currently have a critical role, your potential new employer would expect a transition period.
If you can start right away (and they know you are not currently employed), you certainly can say you’re able to start tomorrow. Sense of urgency and excitement about starting work at the new company is always a good thing.
How did you find this job?
You may have found the opportunity through research on ideal jobs where you can make the most impact and hope to grow professionally.
I would also hope you looked for companies that you feel meet your standards for corporate culture, investment in employees, successful business model (or perhaps giving back to community), and any other aspects you feel are important to you.
Make sure you can go into a little detail on what you found in your research.
Why do you want to leave your current job?
This can be a deal-breaker question.
Obviously, if you say you hate your current boss or company, the interviewer will naturally believe you will hate them eventually. And, if you say, your current compensation or role is below your standards, they will again assume the worst.
Although these may be legitimate reasons to leave a job, there must be other reasons, too.
- Your current company or department may have become unstable (hopefully the interviewer’s company is very stable).
- Your current employer may not be able to offer you any professional growth (the interviewer’s should be able to do this).