Interviews can be gruesome and flat out undesirable especially if you fail to answer seemingly simple questions well. Below, we list the most common interview questions and offer a few tips on how best you can answer them exceptionally.
- Who are you/Tell us about yourself
Interviewers give this invitation to the interviewee to see how best you as an individual know yourself. It is also meant to help them know you a little better, away from your CV or resume; this is because the resume gives a one sided view of you and now is your chance to reveal yourself to them. However, don’t go around telling them who your parents are, which nickname you are called by at home, or any other intimate information about yourself. The interviewer here is seeking or looking for viable reasons as to why you may be the perfect fit for the job. This will require you to be crafty when talking about yourself.
Example: As an accountant, I tend to spend lots of time indoors seated behind a desk so I love to unwind in a healthy manner by engaging actively in sports such as football and basketball. Due to my attention to detail, I also tend to lean towards cooking since it gives me a chance to be picky about the kind of things I eat without having to explain myself. I am an honest person who deals justly at all times, a hard worker but never too full of myself that I can’t be taught, I am teachable and willing to learn.
Notice how the above example reveals the lighter side of the interviewee yet at the same time communicating job related skills that might just land him or her, the job.
- What is your greatest weakness?
Many people fear this question because they tend to do a retrospect and cannot fathom why anyone would want to know the negative things about them. Well, you are asked this question to know if you have the right attitude to take on the challenges of the job at hand. For example, a clearly short tempered person may not be a good fit for any leadership roles. However, be witty about your answer as well, instead of simply stating the weakness, go a step further and explain it to show how it can be used to great advantage. Also to note, stay away from killer weaknesses such as short temperedness which can be arbitrary to your desired job.
Example: I freeze when working under pressure. You might be thinking, this job is not for me since pressure is always present here. However, I have learned to use this to my benefit. Because I fail to produce during intense pressure, I horned my skills in planning such that I am able to plan activities before the deadline and work on them to get completed ahead of time. As a result, I am able to finish my assignments early, always meet my deadlines, and even manage to add more hours of my time to do tasks that may not be primarily mine to handle. This has actually led to be known as the one who saves the day in my previous job placements since I am able to always be available for extra work and help my co-workers.
- What is your greatest strength?
Just like the previous question, the interviewer is seeking to see if you are indeed as qualified as you appear on paper. So show them how your strength has translated into a critical workout put in your previous work experience. Since as an individual you do not have a single strength; be picky about the kind of strength you choose to share here, ensure it is job related or rather, related to the particular job you are interviewing for.
Example: As a teacher, my greatest strength is emotional intelligence, I tend to be hard to annoy, irritate or even bother. My students claim that I don’t get angry and even when they do things that may justify anger, I can control my emotions well enough and smile during situations that may be unbecoming. As a result, I have been able to win the confidence my most of my students who take me as their mentor, confidant and friend. This has enabled me to help students who have been previously been brushed off by other teachers as too troublesome and managed to help them improve their character, manners and discipline as a whole.
- Why do you want to leave your current job?
It may not matter much what bad things might have happened at your previous job, even when they are the real reason as to you are leaving, what matters is the underlying reason deciding to quit or leave your previous job. Here, the interviewer wants to know why you left, why you are opting for this job and why you should be hired. Remember to bring out the positives.
Example: I have always dreamt of being a leader, however, I chose the easy way out and became a computer expert where I hide behind my desk and computer and do great things. Nevertheless, the need for leadership has always stayed with me and while my current job doesn’t offer me opportunities for leadership, I felt I needed to venture behind my desk and seek for opportunities that could grant me a chance at showcasing my skills. Despite not being a leader in official capacity though, I have always been looked at as a leader in my previous jobs. I was chosen as the one to forward any complaints to our bosses, I always chaired meetings and even mentored several junior staff as they joined the company.
- Why should we hire you?
If you have never sold or marketed a product, then this question will be hard for you, this is because it requires you to sell yourself to the interviewers. You ought to exude confidence in your answer and be elaborate yet concise.
Example: You should hire me because I not only come along with technical knowledge on how to do my job, but also bring a blend of skills such as natural leadership skills, excellent communication skills and a knack to go above and beyond to bring my objectives to book.
- What are your salary expectations?
If you are going to attend your first job interview, then this question may pose a great challenge, however, be in the know that even others have the same problem. If you put it too low, you may be underpaid, if it is too high, you may miss your chance to get the job. Here, your employer wants to know how much value you attach to your work, vis-à-vis what they can offer you. Therefore, you need to be low enough not to cheat yourself, and not too high off to put yourself off. If possible, don’t put a specific number to your price, instead, give a range.