Common Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

23 October

Job interviews can be both an exhilarating and anxiety-inducing experience; on the one hand, it’s n a great opportunity to remind yourself of all of your achievements experience and knowledge, boosting your self-confidence and worth. However, on the other, the fear of the unknown when it comes to the questions that will be asked or activity you will be expected to complete can raise those stress levels.

Preparation is key for job interviews, it enables you to respond in an assured and assertive manner, answering smoothly and without hesitation. We have put together, some of the most common job interview questions and how you should answer, not for you to memorise, so that you can prepare and present yourself as a strong candidate.

Tell me about yourself

As an open-ended question, this is a good ice-breaker and puts you at ease.

Your answer needs to provide the interviewer with the right amount of information while letting some of your personality shine through. Take a low-key approach and share a little about you such as your hobbies or volunteer work, your hobbies give the interviewer an insight into your lifestyle and character; then you can transition into your professional career and career strengths.

Make a list of your strengths before the interview, so you are clear on what they are, and which ones make you an ideal candidate for the role you are interviewing for.

 

Why should we hire you?

Another way of wording this question would be ‘what makes you the right candidate for this role?’ 

Your response should effectively be a sales pitch for you!

You should have read the job description carefully – what skills, knowledge or experience do you have that aligns with each of the points they are looking for? It’s very useful to provide a practical example of a time you have demonstrated the qualities they are looking for, to make your answers contextual.

Your answer shouldn’t be long, it needs to be concise and to the point, for example –

“Your business provides many of the services that I have had experience with, in a variety of ways. [Offer one or two specific examples.] I believe that my knowledge and understanding of the industry would make me a good fit for this position.”

 

What is your greatest strength?

This is one of the most common interview questions; its key that you discuss the strengths that relate to the job role because the interviewer wants to see if you are aligned.

It’s great if you can bench-press 100 KG, or are really great at ‘all you can eat’ competitions, but this won’t have any impact on whether you are the strongest candidate. This is another example whereby your skills and expertise should be aligned with the job description, give a contextual example –

“I have strong writing skills, and worked as a copy writer for three years, writing for a variety of publications and industries, and can shape my writing style accordingly.  I possess a strong attention to detail when it comes to writing as a marketing assistant, I can write and edit copy for a number of platforms from onsite content, to press releases and guest posts with accuracy.”

 

What is your greatest weakness?

Again, an extremely common interview question. We all have weaknesses, but you must be able to put a positive spin on them. It’s a fine line, as you don’t want the interviewer to discount you, but it’s critical that you can identify areas that you know you can become stronger in.

You can choose to mention skills that are essential for the role, or that highlight your strengths. For example, if you are applying for a role whereby you are working closely in small teams or with another colleague, you could mention that you aren’t very confident at present to very large groups, but you have exceptional skills with one to one communication.

Why are you looking for a new role?

Your answer to this question should be very direct and focused, sticking to statistics where possible and leaving any personal feelings out of the equation.

You could mention that;

  • There isn’t room for growth in your current position
  • You want a role that offers your more challenges
  • You would like to pursue a career in a new direction or use your skills in a different way
  • You are looking for a company that offers a different environment

 

What are your future goals?

Recruitment is an expensive process for a firm, and the interviewer is using this question to determine your longevity in the role and the company.

You will successful with this question the more you align your goals with the aims of the business. You will exhibit degree of direction and determination if you can answer this concisely, and with confidence.

Spend time researching the company, do they have clearly defined career progression paths for staff? Or do they have a mission statement or set of values that you can align your career goals with?

You could provide an answer such as, “My future goals involve growing with a company where I can continue to learn, take on additional responsibilities, and contribute as much value as I can. I love that this business places an emphasis on professional development and I intend to take advantage of these.”

How do you handle stress? 

With every role, it is likely that there are varying degrees of stress and it’s something that we all experience from time to time – this is natural. The interviewer wants to assess how you cope and deal with stress and pressure.

The best answer you can give in this situation, is an example of a previous stressful work scenario, how you dealt with the situation and what the outcome was. While it’s of course, ok to admit that stress is a natural part of a career path, focusing on how stressed you become can be detrimental. You can even mention how stress and pressure can be a motivating factor, encouraging creative thinking.

 

Do you have any questions?

Your answer should never be ‘no’! 

While preparing for your interview, you should compile a list of questions that you want to ask about the role or the company.

Think of five key points that are important to you, for example, you could ask if there is an active emphasis on company culture, or what career progression opportunities look like, or what challenges does the company currently face and upcoming goals.

With regards to the role, you could ask why the position is open, is it a new role, what does a typical day look like and what are the expected achievements in the first six months.

This is your opportunity to find out if the company and role is aligned with your values and future goals

Use each interview as an opportunity to learn about yourself, identifying areas where you need to grow, and soon you will find yourself confident, and self-assured, pitching yourself as the perfect candidate.

 

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