When it comes to selling your skills and your worth at an interview, preparation is key. As a rule of thumb, many employers tend to ask the same questions to follow an objective evaluation system. So it is important to organize a suite of compelling examples to help convince the interviewer that you are the best person for the job.
Here are 10 basic interview questions commonly asked, use them to prepare simple but relevant responses that highlight your talents and professionalism.
Q. Tell Me About Yourself.
Even though this one isn’t really a question it is commonly used in interviews as an effective icebreaker. A strong, succinct answer will quickly gain the interviewer’s attention and separate you from other candidates who may be tempted to ramble on about every minor life story detail. Give a brief, concise description of who you are and your key qualifications, strengths, and skills. Tailoring your answer to the role and stating the biggest benefit you offer to the employer will leave the interviewer compelled to know more.
Q. Why Do You Want to Work for Us?
The interviewer is trying to gauge your enthusiasm for the role as well as your level of knowledge about the company. Give specific examples of things that attracted you to the company; elaborate on your strengths, achievements, and skills as well as on how these match the role’s description, positioning you as a desirable employee.
Q. What Are Your Greatest Strengths?
In this scenario, the interviewer wants to know what you are particularly good at and how this would fit into the role. Choose a few of your key strengths that perfectly fit for this role and give examples of how you have demonstrated them successfully in the past. Strengths could include the ability to learn quickly, ability to work under pressure, the capability to multi-task, strong team player as well as your ability to work independently.
Q. What Are Some of Your Weaknesses?
The interviewer is trying to gauge your self-awareness. We all have weaknesses, so it’s best not to say you don’t have any. Avoid using the word ‘weakness’ and instead talk about an ‘area for improvement’ that is not vital for the job, or specify a ‘challenge’ that you are working to overcome. Demonstrating a willingness to develop yourself and face challenges turns the answer into a positive. In this case, it is also useful to expose the “negative side” of one or some of your strengths, maybe how being a perfectionist can sometimes turn into stubbornness which translates into being too hard on yourself which is something you’re trying to work on. This will show the interviewer your self-awareness and your work ethic at the same time.
Q. What Have Been Your Achievements to Date?
The interviewer wants to know if you are a high-achiever and identify how your accomplishments are valuable to the organization. Select one or two recent accomplishments that are directly related to the job offered. Identify the situations, your course of action, used skills and the positive outcomes – quantifying the benefits where possible. Show how you can bring what you learned to the new role.
Q. What is the Most Difficult Situation You Have Faced at Work?
The interviewer is trying to find out your definition of ‘difficult’ and whether you can show a logical approach to problem-solving. Select a tough work situation that was not caused by you. Explain the way you approached the problem, outline the steps you followed and the solution you applied to overcome the problem. Give your answer with the air of someone who takes setbacks and frustrations in stride, as part of the job.
Q. What Did You Like/Dislike About Your Last Role?
The interviewer is trying to find out your key interests and whether the job offered has responsibilities you will dislike. Focus on what you particularly enjoyed in your last role and what you learned from it, and highlight transferable skills. When addressing what you disliked, be conscious not to criticize your last employer. Choose an example that does not reflect on your skills (such as company size) or which reveals a positive trait (such as your dislike for prolonged decision-making).
Q. Why Do You Want to Leave Your Current Employer?
This should be straightforward. Reflect positively on your current employer but state how you are looking for more challenge, responsibility, experience and a change of environment. Explain how your current role can no longer provide you with these things, but how you believe the role offered presents an opportunity for growth that will make full use of your strengths and potential.
Q. What Are Your Plans for The Future?
A sense of purpose is an attractive feature in an applicant, so this interview question is designed to probe your ambition and the extent of your career planning. Your commitment is also under question. Try to avoid statements such as, “I want to be part of your company.” Rather, specify your professional and personal goals and tie in how this position will help you grow your skill set, acquire more knowledge and overall develop professionally. Relate your future plans to the organization and how your growth will reflect as an added value to the company as a whole.
Q. How Do You Respond to Working under Pressure?
This interview is designed to measure your composure and see how well you react when in taxing circumstances. Problem-solving skills and being able to remain focused in difficult conditions is an extremely valuable trait. Give an example of a time when you were faced with a stressful situation (not caused by you) and how you successfully handled it with ease. Describe the context, how you approached the situation, the actions you took and the positive outcome. This proves you remained calm, in control and got the job done.
Other Basic Interview Questions
Finally, always remember every organization and individual is different so additional questions might arise. Aside from our top 10 basic interview questions essentials manual, here are other commonly asked interview questions to keep in mind:
- Tell me about a successful team project that you have been involved in. What was your role and what made it a success?
- What do you enjoy about this industry?
- Give me an example of when your work was criticized. How did you react?
- Give me an example of a time when you didn’t get along with co-workers or bosses. What did you do?
- Do you prefer to work alone or in a group? Why?
- What are you looking for in a company?
- How do you measure your own performance?
- What kind of pressures have you encountered at work?
- Are you a self-starter? Give me examples.
- What can you bring to this organization?
To answer unexpected interview questions, it is imperative to be organized and prepared. Use your cover letter and/or resume to create an outline of significant points you need to touch upon during your interview. Dissect these documents and use them to guide your answers to any open-ended questions. Preparing yourself with your own material will make you a strong interviewee and the desired employee.