10 Standard Interview Questions & Tips on How to Answer Them

  1. Tell me about yourself

This is probably the most common one. It is not a question, but an invitation for you to share with the interviewer what you believe is important for them to know in order to make an informed hiring decision.

Take this invitation as an opportunity to emphasize on what you have done that qualifies you for this job. Avoid reciting what is on your CV but don’t assume that the interviewer has read it or remembers what’s on it. Share your most significant career highlights, and remember to focus on those relevant to the job you are applying for.

Most candidates will talk about what they have done so far and focus on the past. Take it a step further and talk about your aspirations for the future and what you are doing right now to reach your career goals. This will set you apart by demonstrating you are taking your career seriously.

2. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Employers know that this is a difficult one to answer and that you probably don’t have a clear picture. After all, a lot can happen in 5 years.

Although it is very tempting to focus on your personal career goals, remember that your answer should also include the role / company you are applying for.

Focus on what your recruiter wants to hear and start by stating the significant impact you would like to make to the company’s bottom line. You can also share what skills / knowledge you are planning on advancing / improving to reach the next level in your career. (Make sure these skills are not needed right now for the job you are applying for).

Avoid naming a specific Job Title you would like to reach in 5 years as this title may not exist in this organization. This would position you as out of touch or uninformed.

This question is also meant to find out if you will be a loyal employee or if you will leave at the first good opportunity you get. When answering, make sure you put them at ease by explaining you are not planning on going anywhere else, as long as you can reach your career goals internally.

3. What do you know about us?

Let’s be clear, this question is a test! Not knowing much will give the message that you are not serious about working in this organization. Therefore, your chances of getting the job will stop right there.

Do your homework, have a look at their website and make sure you are aware of their history, background, values, mission as well as their offered services and products.

If you really want to stand out, don’t limit your research to their website. Read recent news articles / press-releases, have a look at the information they are sharing on their social media platforms, awards they may have won or events they recently participated in.

4. Why do you want to work here?

Obviously, employers want to know if you are a good fit for the role, but they also want to know if you are a good fit for the company culture. This question is designed to understand your motivations while assessing if you will be able to fit in quickly with the rest of the team.

You will have to do some research to answer this question the best way possible. Understand the reasons why others enjoy working there and what makes this company attractive to employees and customers.

Is it a great place to advance your skills? Will it provide you with a great challenge to add to your background? What company values can you associate with? And why will you be proud to become an ambassador of this organization?

Stay away from reasons that are not career related and absolutely avoid personal reasons such as the office being closer to your home and the working hours being more convenient to your family life.

5. What are your greatest strengths?

This may sound like the easiest question, but it is also one of the most important. Easy, because the recruiter is giving you an opportunity to shine, important because your answer will help your recruiter decide if you are a strong candidate for the role.

This is not a good time to be humble or arrogant, make sure you are prepared to express your strengths with confidence.

A good way to prepare your answer is to look at the job description for the role and to identify the core attributes and strengths required to perform on the job. Select 2 or 3 most important strengths that you can demonstrate true for yourself.

When describing your strengths, give examples, facts and figures to validate what you are saying and actively express why you believe those strengths will serve you well if you get the job.

6. What are your greatest weaknesses?

Firstly, it’s important to understand what the recruiters are trying to find out. Obviously, they want to make sure that your weaknesses won’t prevent you from performing on the job or to fit in well within the team. They also want to know if you are honest and genuine. Nobody is perfect, your recruiter isn’t either, but you need to demonstrate your ability to recognize your flaws and your willingness to improve on them. These are important attributes to any success professional and this question allows you to showcase them.

There are several ways to go about it

  • Select a non-essential skill

Review the job description and ensure you select a weakness that will not affect your performance. For example, if the role will require you to work alone in an office or have one-on-one interactions with customers, it’s ok to mention “public speaking” as a weakness.

  • Skills you have improved or are currently improving

Once again, make sure you choose a skill that is not required for the role (yet). This can be a great way to show that you can take feedback/challenges positively as an opportunity to improve yourself. For example “The scope of my role evolved to include social media marketing, which I had never done before, so I enrolled on a course to improve my skills and to ensure I am successful with this new task”

  • Turn a negative into a positive

This can be a little cliché and sound less genuine, but it’s ok to use this technique for one of the weaknesses you decide to mention. For example, if the job requires you to have acute attention to detail, you can mention that your perfectionism is sometimes causing you to leave the office later than your other colleagues. If the job requires extreme work ethics and honesty, then explain how you tend to tell the truth without any filters which sometimes gets you into trouble.

  • Use your sense of humor

Make sure the recruiter has a sense of humor before using this one. If so, this is a great opportunity to show your fun side and bring some lightness to the interview.

For example “I am terrible at cooking so be aware if I ever offer you some of my lunch” or “My poor dancing skills are usually commented on at office parties”

When using humor, make sure your next point comes back to a more professional tone.

7. Why did you leave (or are you leaving) your job?

DO NOT badmouth your boss or your organization! (Regardless of how bad the situation may be) What you say about others says more about you than it says about them. Keep that in mind to avoid all negative comments.

Instead focus your answer on the future and what you are seeking. Whether you are looking for your next challenge, an international exposure, a career shift or an industry shift, focus on that.

8. Describe a difficult work situation / project and  how you overcame it.

When asking this question, the recruiter wants to know how you will behave when faced with a difficult situation or project when working for him/her. Once again, you need to focus on the role you are applying for and choose an example from your past that is most likely to happen in this new role. Remember, recruiters don’t really care about your past; they are trying to predict your future with them.

Use the STAR Method to articulate your answer: Explain the Situation and the Tasks that needed to be completed; thoroughly describe the Actions you decided to take and don’t forget to mention the positive Results you accomplished.

9. What are your salary expectations?

This question may be a bit uncomfortable to answer. Unfortunately, recruiters need to know if they can afford you and you need to know if this opportunity makes financial sense for you. There is no need to waste anyone’s time if expectations can’t be met.

Prepare your answer by asking yourself the following questions: How much do I want the job? What are my personal financial needs / circumstances? What am I willing to negotiate? What would be a fair increase from my current salary for me to consider quitting my job?

Remember, only offer a number that you will be comfortable accepting.

Additionally, do your homework and get a sense of average salaries for this position in this industry to ensure you are not off the mark.

10. Why should we hire you?

This question gives you one more opportunity to demonstrate why you are the perfect candidate for the role. This is your chance to show your recruiter that you not only understand the skills required for the role but also that you possess most of them.

Take this opportunity to repeat the skills you already talked about during the interview and to expand on the skills you didn’t get to demonstrate yet.

Take it one step further and add one or two more skills that you can bring to the role which were not mentioned on the job description. They need to know you are a candidate who can not only meet their needs now, but will also be valuable for where they want to go in the future.


 

Would you like some support in identifying and going after your next career move? Do you need help making sure your CV is powerfully convincing? Are you wondering what other avenues you could take to find exciting opportunities? Do you simply need help in finding a new job? ….. We can help! Check out our Career Services www.momentum-cc.com

Emeline Roissetter, Founder / Professional Coach, MomentuM Coaching & Consulting

emeline@momentum-cc.com

 

 

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