Congratulations!!! After sending out your resume to suitable employers, you have made it to the next step of the process – The Interview. As exciting as this is, you’re also experiencing some intense butterflies in your stomach at the thought of it. So, to make this part of the process easier and less daunting, I’ve come up with 8 of the most common interview questions and my take on the best ways to answer them.
1. What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Picking out your strengths is the easiest part of this question. Make sure that the strengths you do pick are related to the position you’re after. If you want to go that step further then I recommend the book “Strengths Finder 2.0” by Tom Rath. In it you’ll find a unique code to do a test online that will give you your top strengths.
Now to your weaknesses. A very popular answer to this is “my weakness is that I’m a perfectionist”. Now, I’m not saying that this answer is wrong – it’s perfectly o.k. It’s just that it’s very commonly used and may cause the interviewer to inwardly roll their eyes. I would suggest instead to be more original. So, choose a genuine weakness that you have and then think of a way you can overcome it. For example, ” a weakness of mine is public speaking but I’m halfway through a public speaking course with XYZ Academy”, or “I’ve joined Toastmasters to overcome this weakness” This will show the interviewer that you are willing and able to overcome any challenges that you face. Of course, please keep in mind that when you pick a weakness make sure it’s not directly related to the job you’re going for. You don’t want to say you have a fear of public speaking if you’re going for a job as a lecturer.
2. Why are you the best person for this job?
When you answer this question you need to make sure that you’ve studied the job description relentlessly. Then pick out aspects of the description that is required of you and then relate these back to your previous jobs to show the interviewer that you’ve already done what is required of you in the past and therefore have the experience necessary for the position you are going for. Also, remember that your proven track record of what is required for the position you’re going for may not come from previous jobs but maybe instead from your hobbies or volunteer work.
3.Why are you leaving your current position?
You need to be diplomatic when you answer this question. Be careful not to be overly negative about a previous employer as it will reflect badly on you (no matter how wrong or awful your previous employer was). Best to talk about how you want to grow in your career or self development or want new challenges and that moving on is the best way to do this.
4. Why do you want this job or to work for this company?
When answering this question ensure that you show the interviewer that you’ve done your own or extra research into the job or company. Look at their website, read their mission statement, read about who their current employees are and again, study the job description. Tell them what it is about their mission statement or the type of professionals already working for them that makes you want to be a part of that culture too. Showing them that you took the time to see if they would be a right fit for you will impress them.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Here you need to be realistic. You don’t want to knock yourself out of contention. Your answer needs to be relevant to the position you’re going for. You can talk about how you want to continue to learn and grow with the company. If it’s a sales position for example then perhaps you can say that you’ll endeavour to earn the title of salesperson of the year by then or even strive to be promoted to sales or product manager.
6. Tell me about a time you encountered conflict in the workplace and how did you go about resolving it. OR Tell me about a difficult work situation and how you overcame it.
The best way to answer this question is to use the STAR method
This is an interview technique that most interviewers use to get an idea of how the candidate would perform in a particular situation that is relevant to the job you’re going for. So think about a situation that you’ve encountered previously in your career that required you to take action in order to solve or overcome it. The STAR method is used as follows:
Situation: Present the challenge or situation you encountered.
Task: What did you try to achieve as a result of the situation? What were the issues? What needed to be done?
Action: What did you do exactly? What steps were involved? How did you manage the situation?
Result: What was the outcome? What did you learn from the experience?
By practising this method beforehand will ensure that you look confident and polished and prevent you from umming and aahhing and stumbling over your words as you frantically try to think of what to say.
7. How do you handle stress or pressure?
Stress or pressure is virtually inevitable in a lot of jobs. The interviewer wants to gauge if you’ll be able to deal with potential stress or pressure that comes with the job. How you answer this question depends on how you personally view stress. You may be the type of person who thrives or works best in stressful situations and if you are, say that in your interview, especially if the position you’re going for is a stressful one. Be sure to also let them know that you then counter that stress in other ways when at home or away from work which would be better for your health. If this isn’t you then talk about how you deal with or balance out stress by going to the gym or meditating or by doing a hobby that you love. Other ways people deal with stress is by writing or listing what needs to be done for the day or week and then prioritising those responsibilities and systematically crossing them off your list. Or, simply, stress may not affect you at all and you remain relatively calm under pressure.
8. Do you have any questions?
It is important that you do ask at least 2 or 3 questions. It further reinforces your interest in working for them and can also reiterate that you took the time to research the company. You can ask them to clarify something you read on their website; ask for more detail about a specific aspect or task you read in the job description; ask them if it’s a newly created position or if you’re replacing someone, if it’s the latter ask what happened to the previous person in the job and why they left. It is best to have these questions prepared before the interview and if it happens that those questions are answered during the course of the interview then tell them so, at least it will show that you did have questions prepared. Oftentimes you’ll find that new questions will surface during the interview anyway.
For you to have the best advantage in the interview is to have your answers prepared beforehand. I’m not guaranteeing that the above questions will definitely be asked but there’s a very good chance that most of them will. To be even more prepared I recommend you searching on google for the most asked interview questions and researching there too.
Good luck and all the best!!