Dec 17, 2015

The Top 10 Most Common Job Interview Questions


Heads up, job seekers. This is the article you’ve been waiting for. Here, you’ll find a list of the 10 most popular questions used by hirers everywhere. Do know that we’re only sharing these interview tips to provide you with an overall guide to what they want to know – it’s not meant to be used as a script. Just think of it as a sample interview questionnaire to help you craft the perfect responses that gets you the job.

1. Tell me something about yourself.

Now, this is a classic used at the start of interviews to break the ice and to get you to give them a good initial run down of who you are and what you can bring to the table.

You should prepare a 2-3 minute presentation that briefly introduces yourself (where you’re from), your personal interests (if they are relevant to the role you’re applying for), your work history, and recent career experience.

Interviewers look out for three things:
  • If you are able to give a brief, sequential summary of your life and career that relates to the job for which you’re interviewing. Don’t ramble on aimlessly on irrelevant nitty gritty details though. If you find yourself at the five minute mark talking about your high school days, you’re already way off the mark.
  • Your conversational style, confidence level, and your ability to organize and present information.
  • An idea of the person you are behind the suit.
2. Why do you want to join this company?

Here’s when they’ll try to find out your motivations for joining the company. Long-time hirers have heard it all before and they’re good at reading between the lines, so think carefully when answering.

First, do your research on the company, its culture and market. Not enough job candidates do enough or any of this which is a real no no!

Second, DON’T give answers such as ‘Oh, because its such a cool place to work! I like your salary and benefits package,’ or ‘My friends are already there and it makes it easier for us to hang out together.’ As exaggerated as these responses, the fact is that similar responses do happen and it’s best you avoid them.

These answers are all self-serving and they do not reveal how your skills and experience deliver what the company needs.

Third, demonstrate to them how you can contribute to the company’s goals and how your skills and experience match their requirements. Use concrete examples such as past work experiences to illustrate this.

3. Why are you looking for a new job?

This may seem like a straightforward question to answer, but look again – it is very easy to slip up here if you are unprepared. Most people seek another job because they are unhappy/unsatisfied with their current employment. But relating anything in a negative light at an interview is in bad form. Most interviewers don’t look so much for the reason you left, but they way you deliver your response. So, always be honest and positive.

Even if you got fired from your last job, try to keep it brief yet honest. If you start ranting on about how your ex boss/company was a terrible employer, they may be thinking, ‘Is he still dealing with bitter or sad feelings, or has he been able to focus his energy on the future and the next position? Does she place total blame on others for her situation or does she accept at least some responsibility for it?’

If you left voluntarily, don’t dwell on the negative reasons for leaving, and focus on how you can contribute better to your new company/role.

Some examples of answers that would work are below.
  • I wanted to move my career in a new direction. (Make sure you mention what this new direction is.)
  • My company was restructuring and I chose to seek better opportunities elsewhere.
  • I want to keep developing new skills but was unable to pursue this in my previous company. I decided to make a change to allow this to happen.
4. What kind of position are you looking for?

Avoid vague answers such as “I want an exciting job” or “I want to grow my skills in this area.” It shows lack of focus and motivation for your career objective. Instead, focus on your desired position and how your skills and experience can help you be an asset within that position. For example, ‘I have a strong ability to communicate and market a product as proven in my two years working as a marketing officer for company X. I believe that I understand the consumer industry and can add value to your company’s marketing efforts.’

5. What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses?

This particular interview question is especially tricky and it’s important that you follow our interview tipsto succeed. This is a time to be honest, but don’t go to extremes either way. You don’t want to start telling them that you are really terrible at organizing and can never be on time. Neither should you make yourself out to be the next best thing since sliced bread. Instead, be clear and concise about qualities that demonstrate you take responsibility for your work ethic, actions, and experiences learned (or failures) on the job, problem-solving ability, and values.

6. What do you know about our company?

This is where your research can come in handy. It is a way to demonstrate that you are serious about joining the company and was motivated enough to learn about it before the interview. Don’t respond by repeating each and every fact you learnt about the company, because it can seem arrogant and memorized. Do mention its major product, markets and latest development. Keep things positive. Also try to show your eagerness to learn more about the company by asking some questions to the interviewer him/herself.

7. What do you consider your greatest achievements?

Try to mention about 2-3 achievements. This is a way for interviewers to gauge how you managed people/projects/yourself in a successful manner – which can translate into how you may be able to succeed in the company if they hire you. Try to choose a set of achievements that allow you to display a variety of strengths. (ie. A successful event that you set up showing your organizational skills, successfully resolving a situation at work which demonstrates your problem solving skills and delivering an important report under difficult circumstances which shows your ability to handle pressure.)

8. Where do you see yourself one (or five years) from now?

Your response should reflect confidence and drive to reach a level of work that will be rewarded for your success. State realistic expectations and propose a real plan of where you intend to go within the company. Never sound overly confident, fearful or confused.

9. What type of job assignments did you perform in your last job?

Be honest when answering this, even if the tasks performed don’t exactly match those required in the new position. Likewise, you should also take the opportunity to mention any projects you’ve volunteered for, special projects you took on outside your work scope or elected positions held in committees in other past jobs. The key point here is to try to tell them about experience gained in areas that might be relevant to your new position.

10. When you start a new job, how do you establish good relationships with your new colleagues and supervisors? 

It is important here to be enthusiastic and positive. Tell them how you worked well with your past colleagues or peers in projects. Networking skills is important so show how you used yours in your past to good stead.

The bottomline is this: be prepared, do your research, and understand the job you are being interviewed for and how your skills, personality and experience match the job’s requirements. Close the interview with questions, pass on your calling card if you have one, thank them for their time and give a firm handshake before smiling and saying good bye.

The first interview is just a lead into the second interview or offer to a job. Not everyone is suited for the job or the company. So don’t be discouraged if you were not offered a position right away. Keep your chin up and your cool, take these interview tips to heart and don’t give up on yourself.

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