How to Answer the 5 Most Common Interview Questions

Almost all interview questions asked by companies are structured in the same way.  Yet, many job applicants fail to take advantage of this well-known fact and prepare beforehand.

We understand that no amount of preparation will mimic the very real moment where a panel of suited-up strangers is eyeballing you dubiously. Nevertheless, if you know enough about the organization you have applied to and fully prepared yourself, the interview shouldn’t be a challenging part of the process.

Here are some of the most common questions asked in interviews and the best ways to answer them.

1. Tell us about yourself?

This is a difficult question in disguise. Employers are usually looking for answers that highlight your skills and personality traits. So the key is to align your answer with the job description.

The idea is to give a “pitch”. Make your answer concise and compelling. You may include your skills, experiences and/or relevant personality traits. Here is an example:

“Well, I am currently a freelance photographer for XYZCompany. In the past year I have been assigned jobs for X many top paying clients including {Names}. I also love to paint or sketch during my free time. I wanted to turn my passions into a fulltime, stable career which is why I applied here {company name}”

2. What are your strengths?

You are going to want to boast when this question is asked. The most difficult component of this question is the degree of modesty in your answer. It’s best to exude confidence in this answer and include only those strengths that are relevant to the position at hand. This may include social skills, communication skills, leadership skills, etc. Stick to only 2-3 strengths and elaborate with solid examples. For example:

“I am a professional salesperson with over 6 years experience in retail sales. I am very persuasive and great with people. I exceed my sales target every time. Not a single year went by when I didn’t receive a bonus.”

3. What are your weaknesses?

This, for many, is the most dreaded question. Highlighting your “weaknesses” while you are trying to give out a positive impression is paradoxical. Think of something that has been your weakness for a long time but you are currently trying to improve on. Try not to make it a skill that is compulsory for the job at hand. For example:

“Procrastination was a problem for me for a very long time. However, recently I downloaded a program that helped overcome this problem with the help of scheduling. Now, I try to prepare for everything in advance.”

4. Why do you want this job?

We hate to say this, but you can’t always be honest and upfront about all the reasons for applying for the job. Employers want to hear something that benefits both you and them. So, even if you applied because of the compensation package, the “prestige” of the company, or anything that entirely benefits you, set it aside and come up with something that benefits both parties. Here’s an example:

“This job is a perfect fit with my goals and career. I have had enough experience in the creative fields and now I am really enthusiastic about {job}…”

5. Why should we hire you?

Again this question will require a pitch delivering answer that will combine the answer of the first question (tell me about yourself) and the second (what are your strengths).

This is the crux of all questions and won’t necessarily be asked in those exact words. Overall, you have to convince your interviewer that…

  • Your experience, skills, and personality fit the job
  • You have the ability to deliver outstanding work in that area
  • You stand out of the crowd


Article Source: Ashley Sanford (The Ladders)

in Interviewing

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