How to answer 11 most commonly asked interview questions
Interviews can be highly stressful to some, and as is the case with most things, preparation is key. Here are 11 common interview questions that you may get asked, and ways in which you can answer them.
- Tell me about yourself.
Keep your answer to one or two minutes; don’t ramble. Plan ahead by researching the employer and the role in advance. Prepare a concise answer that focuses on your key skills, knowledge, and experiences that are relevant to the position. Touch on personal skills and characteristics that translate to career strengths.
- What do you know about our company?
Do your homework before the interview. Spend some time online researching the organisation. Find out as much as you can, including media releases, products and services, size, reputation, image, management style, culture, company history, and philosophy. Project an informed interest—impress them with your knowledge and initiative.
- Why do you want this job?
Ensure you don’t talk about what you want from them. Make sure you do your research and discuss what you know about the company and the job, and why you are a good match. First, talk about their needs – you would like to be part of a specific company project; you have the experience to solve a company problem and you can contribute to specific company goals.
- What can you offer us that some else can’t?
This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate how your past accomplishments and skills relate to their specific requirements. Use past experiences that demonstrate prior success in resolving issues comparable to those encountered by the prospective employer. Speak to results, not just initiatives. The interviewer wants to know that you are willing to go above and beyond the basic requirements of the position.
- How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?
Here the employer wants to know that you can stay calm under pressure. They want to make sure you can handle big projects with intense deadlines and take on extra work if need be. Make sure you can share an example where you handled a tight deadline or a stressful project or work environment and remained calm. You can also introduce other skills here, such as how you are very organised and a good planner and that helps you get ahead of stressful situations, or the fact that some stress motivates you.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
The interviewer’s objective is to ensure that you wish to improve upon, and you will be satisfied in the position, and you aren’t simply buying time until you find something better. Be realistic, however, try to illustrate that you are goal-oriented, and you are looking to grow and progress within the company.
- What are your strengths?
If you’ve done your homework, you should understand what the interviewer will be looking for in an ideal candidate. Based on the job description, choose at least three examples of traits that the employer is looking for and give real-life examples of how you have used these strengths.
Highlighting attributes that show you have a good work ethic will also impress the interviewer. Try to use a mix of technical based skills and soft skills.
- What are your weaknesses?
A common mistake in answering this question is to nominate an arguably positive attribute as a weakness. For example, the classic example, “I’m a perfectionist” will not get you very far. A better way to go about it is to state skills that you are already making positive steps to address. For more advice on what to avoid in an interview, read more here: “Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Job Interview”.
- What motivates you?
Avoid mentioning motivators such as money, benefits, or holidays. You want to appear hardworking and motivated by the responsibilities and opportunities of the position. Focus on how you will benefit the company as opposed to how the company will benefit you.
- Why should we hire you?
This is generally a question that will be asked near the conclusion of the interview. It gives you an opportunity to reiterate the skills, experiences and accomplishments that will enable you to excel in the position. Think of it as a chance to summarise your relevant strengths and differentiate yourself from other candidates.
- Do you have any questions?
The wrong answer is “No”. Asking informed questions shows initiative and indicates that you are truly interested in the position. For information on appropriate questions to ask in an interview, read more here “Asking the Right Questions”.
If you’re newly in the job market, explore our other job seeking tips Job Seeker Career Advice page.