A job interview can be a cakewalk provided you have extensively researched about the companies you're applying to and prepared well in advance for all the basic questions. There are a few questions that are more or less standard job interview fare. So how to answer them? Well, we will make it all the more simple for you by helping you out with the 11 most common interview questions with their answers.
1. Tell us about yourself
This is usually the opening question at most interviews to help you loosen up. Avoid giving answers that are too personal or those which can ruin the impression you give about yourself. You can begin by talking about your personal experiences that can relate to the job; especially those which can make you seem fit for it. Make it short and concise because you wouldn't want to appear as someone who would rattle on about themselves, would you?
2. What are your key strengths?
This question should be used as your ammunition to market yourself in the best way possible and demonstrate your suitability for the job. Focus on those strengths that are compatible with their work culture and goals. It must also involve soft skills like leadership, management and decision-making. An example can be given of the way you exhibited leadership qualities in your previous job.
3. What are your weaknesses?
This question should be tackled cautiously since it can work against your chances of landing the job. You could try projecting your strengths in a way that makes it appear like your weakness. For example, you can say 'I tend to work too hard. I become so focused on achieving the goals of the organisation that I overburden myself.'
4. Why should we hire you?
This is one of the most common questions asked in an interview and if you're not sufficiently prepared for answering it, you can seriously damage your odds of being considered for the job. Here is where you need to make the right pitch for the job. Don't shy away from talking about all your strengths and achievements and about what you can offer to the company. Your response should be designed in a way that projects you as the ideal candidate.
5. How did you get to know about this company?
You must have got to know about the company through job listings, word-of-mouth, advertisements or any other source. State the sources from where you got to hear about this vacancy. Also, show your desire to join the company and present yourself well.
6. Which other companies have you applied to?
When you answer this, list out the companies that specialize in the same field this current posting is involved in. This question is usually asked for the recruiters to figure out if you're truly passionate about joining this industry. You can give a common skill which you're willing to utilize for the company's growth.
7. What is your biggest professional achievement?
Explanations about your achievements should be backed up by valid evidence in the form of quantified figures in your track record. This is also the time to show your confidence while stating the value you can truly add to the company. Rather than talking on about the position you occupied, focus more on describing your responsibilities, the projects you handled and the final outcome. So quantifying your achievement is much more impressive than merely rambling on.
8. What are your salary expectations?
It's advisable to look up sites like Payscale where they put up an estimate of how much you should be paid for the work you do.
Putting forward very high figures can go a little overboard and stating a really low amount might destroy your prospects of ever being able to negotiate a higher salary later. Adjust your salary requirements according to your skills and experience.
9. Explain how you would overcome a stressful situation.
Employers want to know how you work under pressure. Here, you can describe any previous incident where you sailed through a difficult situation comfortably. You can also share stress reduction techniques you resort to when faced with stressful situations. Never say that you've not been under stress ever because that can make the employers believe that you work only in low-pressure environments.
10. In what areas do you think we can do better?
Some companies, especially startups might pose this question. If you don't have a direct answer for this, it will give the impression that you haven't researched enough about the company. It will show a dearth of critical thinking in an area you're supposed to be good at. Conduct a background research of the company, pool in your ideas and put your skills to use.
11. Do you have any questions?
You shouldn't immediately reply in the negative because that can make you seem uninterested or not passionate enough for the job. It's alright to ask about their performance, other goals, employee work culture etc. Asking about the team, departments and other specific areas will demonstrate eagerness on your part. Just keep some sample questions ready before the interview.
Not navigating these common questions with ease can put you at serious risk. So read out your resume and get down to work soon!