YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ANSWERING THE MOST COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Prepare better for your interviews with these 15 commonly asked questions and their answers.
“A lot of us for instance are very good at our jobs but absolutely hopeless at job interviews” ― Karl Wiggins
Preparing for an interview can be nerve-racking. While different interviewers and institutions follow their own set of questions, there are some common questions that most interviewers might ask in order to understand you better. Preparing for these questions beforehand can ease your stress and anxiety during the interview and allow you to sail through it. Here is a list of 15 common interview questions with their answers, that will help you ace your interview.
Note that these are simply tips on how to plan and frame your responses to the interviewer’s questions and not generic answers for you to provide them with. You have your own accomplishments and learnings to show- so use them in your interview and avoid basic, uninteresting responses. The following guidelines are meant to help structure your responses and prepare beforehand.
Common Interview Questions and Answers
1. Tell me a little about yourself.
This is one of the most commonly asked- and seemingly easy to answer- questions that interviewers ask. Be prepared with your answer. Realize that the interviewer has already looked at your resume and knows everything on there about your academic and work experiences. Avoid simply restating those points- the interviewer learns nothing new about you this way. In talking about yourself, you need to go beyond your resume and need to express that you are a perfect fit for this job. Talk about your academic and work experiences as well, but provide insight that isn’t available in your CV. Explain to them why you took the jobs that you did, your current work responsibilities, why you majored in a specific subject, why you took a gap year, and so on. You could also add some interesting personal details. Make sure that the information you provide is relevant and allows the interviewer to believe that you are right for the job.
2. What are your greatest strengths?
This is your opportunity to show the interviewer that your abilities and skills match the job requirements. When listing your strengths, make sure that you emphasize that you will fit into this job very well. Talk about your skills and the personal qualities that make you qualified for this job. It is important to not just state your qualities, but also provide anecdotes. Explain how your oratory skills helped you with your last job. Tell them about the one time your knowledge of some software helped you at your last workplace. You don’t have to list all your strengths- just make sure that the ones you do put forward are relevant to the job.
3. What are your biggest weaknesses?
Now, this is often a scary question to answer. Should one actually reveal their weakness or not? Some people might fabricate their strengths as a weakness like, ‘I work too hard', ‘I am too focused on the quality of my work’, or something else along those lines. Some interviewers may be fine with that, but others may think that you are being disingenuous. A good way to answer this question is to reveal an actual weakness of yours but also express how you are working to overcome it. Instead of saying ‘I am easily distracted’ you could say ‘I am sometimes prone to getting distracted but I’ve been using strategies to help me remain more focused.’ In doing so, you are presenting your weakness but also showing your ability to overcome it and even to turn it into a strength. It’s alright to seem imperfect in front of your interviewer- you are only human! When you reveal your weakness to them, you are actually displaying your ability to be self-aware and honest.
4. Where do you see yourself in five years? / What are your goals for the future?
Let your ambition come through in your response. Through this question, the interviewer actually wants to know if your goals and aspirations are in line with those of the company and if your expectations for the future match what the job will lead you to. It is best to answer this question honestly. Tell them what your goals in life are. If your goals do not correspond to what this job can give you, neither you nor your employer will benefit from hiring you. In answering, make sure that it is evident that what the job has in store for you is exactly what you want. Talk about what you wish to accomplish and the abilities and skills you hope to acquire. Explain how this job will play an important role in your future plans.
5. Why should we hire you?
Here, the interviewer wants to know what sets you apart from the other candidates applying for the same job. Why should they choose you over the rest? What do you bring to the table that others don’t? When answering, summarise your achievements and experience, what you’ve learned and how you can apply them to this job. Emphasize your strengths and skills. Be confident in your assertion that you will be an asset to the company. Essentially, you have to sell yourself to the interviewer.
6. How did you learn about the opening?
This is a simple question. The interviewer wants to know how you came across the job opening. The best way to answer would be to display your passion for this job by showing them that you went out of your way to look for this particular job, whether it was by asking your friends and colleagues or by searching on places like LinkedIn, rather than simply stumbling upon the opening somewhere and deciding to apply. Show that you were seeking out this specific job because you really want to work here.
7. Why do you want this job?
This question gives you the opportunity to explain to the interviewer why you are the perfect candidate for this job. Make sure to have researched the job and the company before you go for the interview. Talk about how it lines up perfectly with your goals and aspirations for the future. Let them see how passionate you are about this job. Keep in mind some of the features of the job that make you the right person for it. You could even talk about why you want to work for this specific company. You could also mention how the job fits in perfectly with your future plans.
8. What is your greatest professional achievement?
Make sure your response is one that allows the interviewer to think that you are right for the job. Your response must be relevant to your job. If you are a graphic designer, talk about the work you did for a big client or about an award you’ve won for your work. Show the interviewer that you have succeeded in this field of work before and will continue to thrive in it. Flaunt your achievements!
9. Why do you want to leave your current job?
This question is not an invitation to talk- or God forbid, gossip- about the issues you are facing at your present job. No matter your problems with your job, do not bad-mouth them. The interviewer is likely to perceive that negatively. Instead, talk about the benefits of moving on from your previous workplace. Focus less on why you wish to leave your old job and more on why you wish to join the new one. Talk about how you want to grow and be better and that this job gives you the opportunity to do so. You could mention wanting to learn more or to improve your skills and knowledge. Perhaps you are simply seeking better opportunities for yourself. Explain how this job will help you achieve your life goals. In the end, however, try to stick to the truth, but paint it in a positive light.
10. How would others describe you?
Be honest in your response. It is very likely that the company will contact your former place of employment for references. Here, you have the chance to mention your strengths and skills that you hadn’t stated before. You could try to remember what your bosses and co-workers have said about you previously. Try to make the description as relevant to the job as possible.
There’s no harm in mentioning personal traits such as being funny.
11. How do you handle pressure?
Stress is an inevitable part of nearly every job and it is natural for someone to feel stressed out or under pressure. You do not have to pretend to be unfazed by stressful situations. Instead, you could answer by telling them how you manage your stress. They could be meditation, napping, taking a break, etc. No one expects you to always be stress-free. What matters is how you deal with a stressful situation. You could add in some anecdotes as well.
12. What are your interests outside of work?
Be honest in your response to this question. The interviewer wants to know about you outside of work. Make sure that your responses sound appropriate. You could mention hobbies that show your passion for your work outside of the job. Perhaps you work as a content writer for a website, and your hobbies include writing poetry in your free time. However, your interests can lie outside of work too. Perhaps you enjoy gardening and painting as much as you love poetry. Through your answers, the interviewer gets to know you at a personal level. If you could connect how your interests and hobbies help you with your work, that’d be a bonus.
13. What are your salary requirements?
Before going for the interview, do your research. Use all available resources to find out what is the ideal pay for someone with your job title, experience, and knowledge. Keep a range in mind within which you expect to be paid. We tend to be uncomfortable talking about money matters at the first meeting but do not let this opportunity go out of your hands. Let them know that you know your worth. Do not hesitate to ask for a number just because it seems too big to you, especially when that is the expected rate for your job. Be willing to negotiate your salary, but if they decide on a number, you believe is too low for your work, do not hesitate to turn them down.
14. Is there anything else you’d like for us to know?
The interviewer wants to know more about you outside of what your resume says. This is your opportunity to tell them about yourself that you haven’t said throughout the meeting and would like them to know. You could summarize your qualifications and your skills and how they make you the perfect fit for this job. You could mention why you wish to work with this specific company and how it’ll help you achieve your future goals.
15. Do you have any questions for us?
This is your chance to ask the interviewer any questions that you have about the job. Find out if the job actually fits your expectations. You could ask about the work specifics, the company goals, future plans, etc.
This is your chance to find out information about the company first-hand so do not waste that.
No matter what questions you are asked, remember to answer them confidently. As they say, “Confidence is key”. If you are asked a technical or knowledge-based question and do not know the answer, admit it without feeling embarrassed. Do not undermine yourself in the interview- always present yourself in a positive way. Remember that how you value yourself will influence how others value you. Keep this in mind and you will never again have a problem with interviews again.
What questions have you been frequently asked in interviews?
The skills one needs apart from technical knowledge to succeed in the workplace