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10 Job Interview Questions You Should Know How to Answer
While it’s true that job interviews differ at every company, and particularly within different industries, there are some interview questions that will most definitely be asked. Here’s a collection of some of the most common interview questions, and an example answer to impress your interviewer.
1. Tell me about yourself
Although a simple question, this is a question that is used to test your ability to think on the spot and prioritize important information. The best way to answer the question is to choose 4 or 5 points, each one giving an overview of your qualifications, relevant employment history, specific skills, and your passion for this particular job. If you are interviewing for your first job, instead of focusing on your employment history and your relevant experience, try to focus on transferrable skills that you may have learned in your degree, or what inspired you to seek that specific career. Since you can definitely expect this question, it's good to think about a few points you would like to mention before you come to the interview, but be careful that it doesn't sound like you've memorised a script! An interview is also about showing off your personality.
2. What are your strengths?
In this question, you are not only required to tell your interviewer about your strengths, but also to highlight why you are better than any other candidate for the job. Instead of focusing on generic strengths such as "good team player" or "hard-working," try and align your strengths to the qualities that are advertised in the job specification. If one of the skills they are looking for is creativity, give an example of how you have utilized your creativity in a professional environment, and if possible, try and apply this strength to the company that you are applying for.
3. What are your weaknesses?
Although this is often perceived as the most difficult and most dreaded of interview questions, in essence the interviewer is just trying to test your self-observation skills. Instead of saying that you "don’t have any weaknesses," pick a weakness (although one that won't hinder your chances of getting the job) and then give a practical example of how you’re addressing it, and the steps that you’re taking in order to improve it. For example, if, like me, public speaking isn’t one of your strong points, state it as a weakness, but then explain to the interviewer how you’ve volunteered to run meetings or give small presentations to your team. Explain how your weakness isn’t something that holds you back professionally, but is something that you are working on and a chance for growth.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A common interview question that transcends across almost every industry, this question is used to assess your long-term planning goals. While each answer is subjective and will depend upon your own personal aspirations, it's important that you not only highlight your ambition, but reassure your future employer that you’re interested in progressing within the company, and are not just using it as a stop gap until a better job comes along.
5. Why do you want to work here?
This question is used by hiring managers as a way of distinguishing between employees that just want a job, and employees who really want to work for their particular company. If you have done your research properly, you should be able to tell the hiring manager how you value the company’s ethos and reputation and have a genuine appreciation for their services and products.
6. What do you know about the company?
Similar to the "why do you want to work here" question, employers ask what you know about the company as a way to distinguish how passionate you are about working for them. Anyone that genuinely wants to work for their company will be well informed about their history, the future plans, and their mission statement. The best way to answer this question is to take one of the company’s mission statements, and tell them why you agree with it and why it resonates with you, e.g "I really believe in this mission because…" You won't always be interviewing for a company that you were necessarily familiar with before you applied, but the interviewer should think that you have a strong, passionate interest in their company!
7. Why should we hire you?
Although this question is forward, it is one of the best questions you could be asked in an interview. The interviewer is effectively giving you the opportunity to sell yourself, your skills and your achievements, and tell them why you are perfect for the job. Instead of firing out a million and one reasons why you’re right for the job, try and structure your argument into two parts – first tell the employer that you meet all the requirements for the role, and back it up with a list of relevant skills. Then focus on your experience and achievements, and demonstrate how your previous experience will make you an ideal candidate for the role.
If you are applying for an English-speaking job abroad, this is the perfect time to highlight your language skill level. Employers will be impressed by your ability to speak multiple languages and the initiative you took to acquire this skill. If you're English level isn't quite there yet, perhaps you could invest some time in a Business English course to help push your skill level and make you stand out from the rest of the applicants.
8. Tell me about an achievement that you are proud of
In an ideal world, your answer should indicate a time where you made significant positive changes within a company, or you were awarded a prestigious accolade within the work environment. If neither of these instances are applicable to you, instead of using the achievement of "graduating from university" try and focus on times where you evidenced skills that are relevant to that job, such as working in a team. If you've spent a lot of time travelling, this would be a good time to highlight some of your experiences abroad, whether that was learning a new language during your travels, becoming more self-reliant, or just absorbing aspects of all the other cultures you experienced.
9. Why do you want to leave your current position?
Another favorite amongst hiring managers, this question is an opportunity for your interviewer to find out about your work ethic. The best way to answer this question is to credit your current job for giving you the opportunities it has, but comment on how the position is limited in its progression and you would like to steer your skill set into a different direction. Frame your answer in a way that says that the role you’re interviewing for is a better fit for you and your pre-existing skill set. If you were let go, be honest. There’s no point lying or beating around the bush, as a hiring manager will check your references and find out the truth. Be sure not to say anything directly bad about your former job, as this shows a lack of loyalty and makes you come across as a complainer. Even if you didn't enjoy the previous job, find a positive way to frame it.
10. Do you have any questions for me?
Often used as the final interview question, this is a great opportunity for you to show your enthusiasm for the role. It’s likely that questions about the company and the role would already have been covered during the interview, so instead you could ask questions that are directed towards the hiring manager, such as "what do you enjoy most about working here?" or "what is your favorite part about being part of this team?" Alternatively, you could direct your questions towards the company’s growth, and ask questions such as "what do you think is the biggest obstacle to the company achieving its goals?" Whatever your questions, just make sure they haven’t already been covered throughout the interview, or you’ll give off the impression that you haven’t been paying attention.
Whatever your answers to the questions are, make sure that you have practiced them beforehand and are able to elaborate on them if needed. Again, it’s also very important to make sure that you answer the questions naturally – your answers should never appear to be scripted, as you’re also being judged on your personality as well as your skills and achievements!