Job interviews are among the most difficult parts during the application process. Interviewers ask questions that may sound simple, but the wrong answer can cost you that job opportunity. Below are the top ten questions along with suggested answers that will help you cruise through the interview process with ease:
- Random Whimsical Question
This is designed to catch interviewees off guard and force them to think on their feet and fast. Questions like “Sell me a used underwear” or “Describe the word blue to a blind person” helps them gauge how well you react when it comes to surprise situations. The interview process of call centers and positions involving sales usually have this kind of interview question. Since it is now a good practice to say “uhhh” or stare blankly into space and thinking of an answer when it comes to an interview, a good way to buy yourself some precious time is to start by saying “Interesting question. I think I <repeat the question> by…” That should do the trick in giving you a short breathing space.
- What is your expected salary?
A wrong answer may either land you with a low salary, or possibly a rejection if you quote it too high. One good way to respond to this question is to do some research. Be informed about the salary ranges in the area where the office is situated. Sites like glassdoor.com, indeed.com, and salary.com are good places to start. Also, do some research on the company as well and find information regarding the salaries of their employees. Finally, if you resort to giving an answer in the form of a salary range, do not expect them agree on the highest amount. Just make sure you are not selling yourself short, as you may end up getting underpaid.
- What do you know about the company?
The inability to answer this question may immediately put the interview to an abrupt end. Just like in question #9, the solution to this one is research. Smart applicants always come into interviews equipped with knowledge regarding the company they want to work in, from the mission and vision to the job description of the specific position being applied for. Take notes of what you gather online and weave them up in a couple of sentences, avoid simply enumerating (“Your mission and vision is 1..2…3…) and do not exaggerate your answers. Just make it clear that you are well-informed, as this indicates that you truly are interested in the company.
- Tell me about your strengths
This question seeks to reveal if you are indeed the right person the company is looking for. Prepare for this by coming up with a list of the strengths you know you have, ranging from abilities like coding or knowing foreign languages, to workplace relevant skills like being able to work well with others. On that list, pick the ones that are relevant for the position you are applying for, and make sure that you can elaborate more about it (better yet, give an example when you utilized a certain strength). Ask your family, friends, or colleagues if you are not sure what your strengths are, and if ever you get the job always make sure that you are consistent with your answers. Let your employers see that you are actually putting your strengths to use and that they are not just answers designed to impress.
- Tell me about your weaknesses
On the other hand, the interviewer may want to know the different side of your spectrum. Review the job description and make sure that your weaknesses are not the primary requirements for landing the job. Pick a real weakness that you have, as long as it is not a major part of what is required of you. If you are applying for a writing job, yet you struggle with math, then it is safe to say that as a weakness. But if your real weakness is a slight part of your job, like having a bit of difficulty when talking to people and your desk job requires the occasional face-to-face with a client, then you can state it, but always mention the efforts you are doing to overcome it. Also, do not mention weaknesses that can affect your performance at work, like your difficulty getting up in the morning, the traffic jam en route to the office, or your dislike of noisy workmates; instead just do your best in correcting those weaknesses without letting anyone know.
- Where do you see yourself five years from now?
This can be a particularly risky question, and you must prepare carefully for it. An honest answer about your real intentions can cost you the application. If you are planning on leaving the company five years later, you cannot share that as it will mean that your services for them have an “expiry date”. Companies want employees who stick around and work with enthusiasm, as hiring and training a newly hired can consume precious energy, money, and time. For your answer to this question, show your motivation and eagerness in getting the position, and that it is part of your long-term career plans. Also, you can state that the company is the ideal place for you to build a career as it provides the competencies and opportunities you need for growth. Do not state specific goals, like wanting to be a vice president after five years or earning a huge salary.
- Why were you fired? Why did you leave your previous company? Why is there a gap on your employment?
The interviewer wants to know what happened to your previous tenure, and your answers should always be positive regardless of what actually transpired that resulted in your departure from your last employment. Do not bad mouth your previous employer, as this reflects an undesirable attitude. If you got fired, you can say what really happened, but share that you have learned something from the experience, and that you have definitely grown professionally in the time you spent in that company. Make sure that you have no emotional baggage when answering this question especially if things between you and the company did not end on a good note. Anger or bitterness may cloud your ability to answer questions calmly. If you left the company on your own terms, you can state that you are seeking professional growth and that you have found this new company to be the most ideal place for that.
The positive answers also apply when you are asked about a gap on your employment. Say that you enhanced your skills through short courses or training programs, and that you actively sought employment. Do not answer that you just killed time doing nothing productive during those periods.
- Tell me about a previous challenge you faced and how you resolved it.
The question seeks to find out how you responded to a challenge or conflict in your previous work. If this is your first job, then the interviewer may ask one that you faced during your school days. Always align your answer towards how you achieved a resolution in the most professional and productive way, and tie it up with what you have learned from the experience and how it will be of use to the position you are applying for. If you happen to have a hard time thinking about what story to tell for this question, look at the job description of the position you are applying for, check the duties, and think of a past situation that you resolved for each one.
- Why should I hire you?
This is sometimes the final question on the interview process, and this can be a pretty intimidating question. This is your last chance to sell yourself and to present your capabilities and qualities as the best pick among the other candidates. Convince the interviewer by emphasizing on your ability to deliver the expected results on the given time, that you can work well with the team and independently, and that you will strive on developing your competencies so that you can give what is best for the company. Basically you will be summarizing the answers on the previous questions so make sure that there is consistency.
- Tell me about yourself
Interviewers most of the time start the process with this seemingly simple question. This does not mean that you should talk about your personal stories or enumerate every single thing that has already been mentioned on your resume. Construct your answer based on how you are the perfect fit for that position you are longing for. Mention the qualities that you possess that can be used for this new job and how they will make you a more efficient employee. Share a short story about how these said qualities have been put to good use during a past experience, and make sure that it ends positively. Finally, end the answer by stating the things you expect from this new job, particularly how it will help you grow and how it will sharpen your skills by putting those to the test. If this is your first job, you can share past volunteer experiences or achievements at school.
How did you answer these questions? Do you have other interview questions that have been asked of you? Let us know in the comments.