24 Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
How would you feel if you knew what the hiring manager is likely to ask you during your next upcoming interview? Well, we are certainly not mind readers but what we can do for you to try to list down the 24 common questions which are asked by recruiters. We are not trying to tell you that we are supplying you with a canned response for every probable interview question; however we would certainly recommend you spending some time with these suggested hints so that you are pretty comfortable when such questions are hurled at you.
1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
While this may seem to be quite a simple question in itself that 90% of the candidates often do not prepare for it. However, this is a crucial question indeed! So here’s the tip for you. Refrain from narrating your entire employment and personal history. Instead provide a response which is concise, yet complete and compelling which depicts in exact words why you are the apt candidate for the position. Begin with two or three specific and key accomplishments or experiences from your career which you would want your interviewer to learn about. Then summarize by talking how that particular experience has shaped and groomed you to become fit for this particular role that you are being interviewed for.
2. How did you hear about this position?
This is another very common question that is asked during interviews. In fact, you need to seek this as the perfect opportunity to stand out and display your passion towards this job and your connection the company at large. For instance, if you happened to find out about this opening through a friend or any other professional contact, you may drop the name but share instead what made you so excited to hear about the said job opening. If on the other hand, you found about it from an article or event, share that as well. If you came to know about this position via a job advertisement, share what caught your attention pertaining to this role.
3. Tell what do you know about us?
It is always recommended that you read and investigate about the company that you are going to for the interview. With the internet at your disposal, this has become an easy job. All you need to do is visit the company’s “About” page and you have the basic information at your disposal. When your interviewers ask this question, they do not expect you to understand or memorize the company’s mission. What they want to know is how much you are keen to get into this company and it shows how much you care about it. So, begin with a line which fairly explains your understanding of the company’s goals. Use a couple of key words and phrases from the website in your responses and then give a personalized touch to your response by adding why you are drawn towards this mission. If possible, share an example or two to corroborate your response.
4. Why do you want out of this job?
This question is asked by interviewers to check how passionate you are about this job. Companies are always keen to hire resources that are keen to be a part of the organization. So frame your answer in such a manner that it sounds convincing enough as to why you want this position. For instance, support your response with a couple of key factors which makes you fit for this particular role. Example: If you are someone who loves to interact and have a knack for problem solving, then highlight how your customer centric attitude is going to help you perform this role of customer support in the most apt manner.
5. Tell why should we hire you?
Although this may seem to be an intimidating question during an interview, but if you are asked, understand that it is in fact a wonderful opportunity for you to sell your skills to the hiring manager. Frame your answer to specify three things:
- Mention that you can not only do this work but you can also deliver great results.
- Convince how you can fit into the team and the culture.
- Convince them how you are certainly a better catch than your competitors.
6. What are your greatest professional strengths?
While answering this question you need to ensure that your share your true strengths instead of trying to be diplomatic by giving answers which your interviewer would want to hear. Also, while describing your professional strengths, you need to be relevant so that you narrate your strengths which fit into this particular position. Be specific in your response. Do not give vague responses such as ‘people skills’ is my strength. Instead, say ‘persevering communication’ is my strength. Then corroborate it with an example as to how you displayed this strength in a professional setting.
7. What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
By asking this question, what your interviewer is trying to gauge is to check your honesty level and your awareness about yourself. So you need to carefully deal with this question by mentioning an attitude of yours which you do struggle with but also mention that you are working on it to improve it. For instance, your public speaking ability is not that great, but you have volunteered to herald team meetings or events which provides you with opportunities to brush and polish your public speaking skill.
8. What is your greatest career achievement?
When you are asked this particular question, do not don the hat of humility unnecessarily. Instead tackle it wittily by setting the context and the task which you were required to perform and complete and provide the interviewer with data such as what and how you managed to achieve. In other words, how did you manage to achieve the outcome. For instance, in a month’s time how you managed to streamline a certain process and helped to save around 10 person-hours every month and reduced the errors on invoices by ‘X’ percentage.
9. Share a challenge or conflict that you’ve faced at work and how you dealt with it
By asking this question, your interviewer wants to gauge your skill of conflict resolution. So answer it with tact by focusing on how you handled a certain conflicting situation at work and how you managed to effectively resolve it. Give a detailed description as to what steps or approach you took to bring about the resolution or compromise for the conflicting situation.
10. Where do you see yourself in five years?
If you are asked this question, ensure that you are honest and specific while stating your future goals. Your interviewer has also asked this question to gauge if you have set realistic career goals for yourself and if this particular position aligns with your personal career goals. So the ideal way to deal with this question is to realistically analyze where this position can lead you and answer accordingly. It is also absolutely fine to say if you are not quite sure as to what your future holds right now, but that you know this experience will certainly play a crucial role in helping you make that particular decision.
11. What is your dream job?
By asking this question your interviewer wants to know if this position or job opening is really in line with your career goals. So a smart way to deal with this question is to begin by talking about your goals and ambitions and why you think this job is likely to bring you a step closer to achieving them.
12. What other companies are you interviewing with?
When your interviewer asks this question to you, it is not without a reason. They want to understand what you are looking out for in their competitors and it also depicts your seriousness about the industry or domain. To answer this question effectively, it may be helpful to mention a particular characteristic which may be common in all the jobs that you have been applying for. For instance, you can respond by saying that you are applying for several positions with different IT consulting firms where you are able to utilize your client analysis skills and contribute to finding solutions by being a part of the development teams.
13. Why are you leaving your current job?
This is an unavoidable question and every interviewer is likely to definitely ask you. So while answering this you must ensure that you keep your response positive. You will not gain anything by badmouthing your past employers. Instead, you should frame your response in such a manner which shows that you are eager to take on new responsibilities and the role that you are interviewing for is a better fit that what you are currently doing or what you previously did in your last organisation.
14. What are you looking for in a new position?
To answer this question effectively, try to be as specific as possible hinting that you are precisely looking at the same things that this position has to offer you. You can frame it well by talking about your relevant job skills, then move on to explain your motivation, connect your motivation with your long term career goals and aspirations, and finally bring your focus back to the company by wrapping up saying something positive about the organisation.
15. What’s your management style?
If the position that you are applying for is of a manager, this is a very likely question. To answer it effectively, share a couple of examples in which you showcased your managerial style and skills and turned around the situations in your previous organizations.
16. Give us an example of a time when you demonstrated leadership
While answering this question, select an example from your previous experience that projects your project management skills such as leading a project end to end, handling effectively customer issues, and how you juggled confidently people issues within the team. Your answer should be detailed to make it believable and also it should represent your leadership experience and potential.
17. Tell us about a situation when you were not in agreement with a decision that was made at work
By asking this question you interviewer does not wish to put you into spot. Instead, your interviewer is trying to gauge how you deal with such situations in a professional and productive manner. So select an example where despite being not in agreement with your boss how you managed to make a positive difference to the outcome of the situation with your proactive action.
18. How would your boss and co-workers describe you?
Be very careful while answering this question, because your recruiter will certainly be conducting a background check and will be checking with your former colleagues or bosses. Hence, your best bet is to be honest. Answer it by focusing on your strengths which you have not touched upon during this interview.
19. Why was there a gap in your employment?
If there was a period of gap in your employment, be upfront and honest about it. Share in details the reason behind this phase or conscious decision (if it was one). Then divert the conversation towards how you are now back with a bang and plan to give your heart and soul into this job and do mention how you plan to contribute towards the organization at large.
20. Can you explain why you changed career paths?
There is no reason to be thrown off by this question. It is okay to share your own reasons behind this change. If required, state a few example of how one of your past experiences is in fact going to be helpful to you in this job. It may not be a direct connection. The tact is to make it sound relevant to the current role.
21. How do you deal with pressure?
One of the great ways to deal with this question is to talk about your stress relieving techniques which you have learnt over a period of time. It shows that you are quite capable of dealing effectively with stress when faced with a certain situation at work. Share examples of how these techniques that you have learnt have helped you to deal with a stressful situation in the past and how you managed to stay cool.
22. What do you like to do outside of work?
The purpose of asking this question is to check if the candidate can fit into the company culture and if given the opportunity is the candidate ready to open up and display their true personality. Hence if you are asked about your hobbies, it is perfectly fine to open up and share what really kicks in for you. However, keep it borderline semi-professional. For instance if you say that you love to go drinking over the weekend, it is perfectly fine. However, do not go on to add that you do not like Mondays because the hangover remains and you cannot focus on work.
23. What do you think we could do better or differently?
The reason interviewers ask this question towards the end is that they wish to know if you have some background to the company and if you can critically think about some of the issues and come up with new ideas or suggestions. So focus your answers on factors such as new features, means to increase conversions, improving customer service, and so on.
24. Do you have any questions for us?
Do not avoid this question. In fact make it sound like an opportunity to get some of your questions answered. For instance, you may want to learn more about the position that you are being interviewed for, the company at large, the department that you are likely to be placed in, the overall feel of the team where you may be place, etc. Interviewers also welcome questions that are targeted towards them such as the favorite part of being associated with this organization or you can even show your keenness towards the new products or plans for growth in the organisation.