Doing well in answering the common and most frequently asked job interview cannot be considered as an art or either rocket science. It can be learned and you can easily teach yourself. Familiarity is the key. Review these typical job interview questions and think about how you would answer them. Read the job interview questions listed and try to find some strategies that will fit for you.
1. Tell me something about yourself that is not written in your Resume.
The question is simply a modification of the “Tell me something about yourself” but this time with a twist. I guess the Human Resources Department people got tired of hearing the same memorized stuffs they’ve been hearing for years wherein they can easily read it in resume. Then they tried modifying it to give a little more interest in it.
The question has a very simple rule; do not mention anything written in your resume. Forget about your personal information and work experiences, I’m pretty sure they’ll be asking you later about this. Prepare a short description of yourself. Focus the speech on how you can describe yourself as an employee. How you handle stress and criticisms. Bringing up your Strengths and Weaknesses can also be a good topic of conversation. Cite few of your real hobbies and interest but make sure it’s good to hear. Do not tell that you love partying and all night drinking sessions with your college friends. It just shows immaturity and irresponsibility. At least mention some decent one. Wrapped up your speech with a very interesting ending.
2. Why did you leave your last job?
Stay positive, despite the fact that your current employer is abusing you. Do not mention any major problem or dispute between you and the management. Because you’ll be the one looking bad. Instead, prepare a great speech that you’re leaving the company with positive reasons like you found a great opportunity in the job opening they offer or you’re looking for a higher degree of responsibility in terms of work.
3. Why did you apply for this position?
It might look like a simple question, but only a few of the candidates can answer it in an appropriate manner. Thus this question is not usually addressed in this form; the employer needs to have it answered and, needless to say, the answer has a significant impact on the final result of your interview.
Hopefully, I will not disappoint you by saying that “because I need a job” or “because I need money” is not the best answer you could give. On contrary, these may be in the top of the worst answers.
When you apply for a job, we may assume that: You consider you are suitable for that job and you are interested in that job.
Consequently, the one question mentioned in the title can be translated in two more specific questions:
- How would you relate your key competencies to this position?
- What motivates you to apply for this job/company/ industry?
In order to be prepared to answer, firstly perform a self-assessment. This helps you to identify your strengths and apply for jobs where those will be best valued. Read carefully the job ad and apply only when you meet the mandatory requirements and you consider your strengths relevant for that job.
Secondly, conduct a brief research on the company you are applying for and identify what motivates your interest. It could be the industry, the company’s position on the market, its values, quality of services, strategy and so on. Find out what would be that thing that could make you choose that job in that company from another job in another company.
Relate these findings with your self-assessment results and build strong arguments to support your interest. Try to avoid clichés. It’s highly probable we heard them before. All we want to know it is that you did your research and analyzed the findings from your own perspective. As I already mentioned in a previous post: if one can’t spend some time to prepare for an interview then he/she does not deserve the job.
4. What do you know about this organization?
Before heading to your interview, the most basic thing you should do is to research about the company. Make a brief and straight-forward essay about the company to answer this question. You can either start with the date when did the company started, the industry where the company belongs to and the main product or services it offers to the public. Browsing through their website can also help you. Try to find interesting facts about them. Keep an eye on the company’s press releases, this might helpful you. Find out where they have been to lately and where they are going.
To add, please do not say: “I just saw it in Jobstreet or Jobsdb or a job posting websites or over the internet then voila! Here I am!” Please don’t do that, you will look stupid. It’s not destiny why you’re attending the company’s job interview. It’s not merely by chance either. It’s your choice. Using that stupid reply make you look not interested for the job position and unprepared. You need to establish the fact that you are really interested to work with them.
5. Are you applying for other jobs in other companies?
Yes and a No.
If you’re currently employed and planning to leave your company anytime soon. The answer is a big NO. The reason why the interviewer is asking you this kind of question is to know if you’re hunting for a greener pasture. We can also call this as “Job Hunting”. There’s nothing wrong in applying simultaneously with different companies. The problem is what if all the companies you applied in hired you at the same time. I’m very positive that you’ll be choosing the highest salary and the sweetest benefits package, right? The dilemma will be brought forward to the HR Department, they will be going through the beginning of the search. In short, they wasted their time on you! To keep it simple, the great and best way to answer this question is by confidently saying NO. You can also add few sentences like, “No, your company is the first on my list. If I fail here then I would.”
If you are a fresh graduate from college, then you can safely say YES. It is very practical in your state that you are applying for more than one company to land on your very first job. Do not mention where did you hand over your precious resume, not unless they ask you. Also, do not mention that you also applied a position in their competitor.
Make sense right?
6. Why do you want to work for this company?
Don’t just blurt out, “Of course, you have an opening and I need a job”. Common sense and probably true but it won’t get you a notch higher against other applicant if you answer like that. The interviewer simply wants to observe how you select a specific company to work for and if you are selective in your job search.
There is no right or wrong answers to these questions, but your answer must reflect that you have thought about what you want and have researched the company. Express you interest in the company based on your research (see Job Interview Question #3).Point out that you can easily fit in with the environment of the company and especially the position your applying. Demonstrate your enthusiasm that you want to work with them.
Your answer can be like this: “Company X is well-known in Soy Sauce Manufacturing industry. I’ve researched your company and found out that it has great potential to be the one of the largest manufacturing company in the future and has a very impressive history with regards to manufacturing condiments and other products. I can be an effective employee here since my unique set of skill can be utilized with the position I’m applying“
7. How much is your expected salary?
One of the heaviest questions to answer in a job interview. The question is designed to trick you and can blew out the interview process by letting you underpriced or overpriced on the salary your demanding Be cautious on answering this. Try to skip this question as quickly as possible. Remember that you have no leverage in this question until a job offer is made. If you move forward from this question and the interviewer demands you to answer this, politely and honestly answer the question. Though it’s just an “expected salary” we’re talking about here but don’t just burst out some random amounts you want. Instead say that you’re not taking any lower than the current salary. This is common sense right? Playing it safe makes you a level higher. If this is your first time to work then you can answer “At least budgeted salary range for this position.” if and only if you’re fine with their budgeted salary range. Be careful to demand a certain amount, it might be enormously higher than the budgeted salary for the position you’re applying. If you don’t know how to answer this question, you can ask your Interviewer if they can give you an idea of how much is the range salary for the position you’re applying. There’s nothing wrong with that, you just simply demonstrated that you have no idea of the salary range.
8. Why should we hire you?
The best way to respond to this question is to make a good answer that emphasize what you can offer for the company and why if you can meet the job opening requirements. There’s two very important elements hidden behind this question, first, what you offer for the company and second, what the company wants.
Point out how your assets meet what the organization needs. Do not mention any other candidates to make a comparison. It is important to remember that the answer is not all about you. The most successful response is to address the company’s needs. Go back to the job position details and examine the job description, duties and responsibilities as well as the requirements needed then start your speech by mentioning the skills/experiences you have and how you can able to adapt those in their job position. You don’t want to apply for a position that requires a very unique set of skill that you (unfortunately) lack of it. You will fail if that happens.
9. What are your greatest strength/weaknesses?
Honestly, this is the hardest question I ever encountered in a job interview. To answers this question, it is important to focus you response mostly on your strengths rather than your weakness. The strengths you just mentioned must be similar to the characteristics the employer is looking for. Prepare a little story that illustrates why the characteristics is truly one of your strengths. Numerous answers are good but stay positive and be honest.
Highlighting your weakness is a big no no. Point out some real weakness but be careful on your selection. Before saying your deepest darkest flaw as an employee, ask yourself first “If I we’re the Interviewer/Employer, Am I happy to hear that my future employee prefers to work alone?”. Admit a very minor weakness only. Analyze if your selected weakness will be a hindrance to the job description. This might hurt your application badly. There are three major reasons why they ask you this. First, after asking your greatest strengths, they want to know if you realized (after those God like strengths you’ve just mentioned) that you are not perfect. Secondly, they are looking for you to shed some genuineness and honesty. And lastly, they want to know what you’re doing to fix those things.
10. Are you willing to work overtime? Night Shifts?
The answer generally depends on you. Be honest. If you said no, then so be it. But what if the job position requires lots of overtime or in night shift schedule? Do you say No to that? Considering that you’re dying to get employed? If you really want the position, you will say yes. The best answer to suggest is to say that you are open for possibilities if the time comes the work requires you to do so. Say something like, you can normally work overtime through the month if required to meet the deadlines.
11. How do you handle criticism?
Even if you cry inside the office bathroom’s cubicle while sitting on the toilet. No one likes to be criticized because criticism implies mistake was made and no one likes to make mistakes.
You can say something like, “I see criticism as an opportunity to improve my work.” Then give an example where you were criticized and how you handled it in a positive way like, “My manager once told me that the reports I gave him were unorganized so I tried to review my past reports and asked if he had any preferences. I followed my manager’s suggestions and reconstructed my reports. My manager was happy with all the reports I handed him after that.”
12. What are your expectations from this job/company?
When you are asked about this job question, you should give a very practical answer. Talk about your future plans with the company. This question can also be related to the question “How do you see yourself in five years from now?”. Present a clear purpose, deamination and commitment to your own career goals by demonstrating that you plan ahead of time. Remember that employer really love to hire employees who take a serious thought about their career growth and professional development because it will benefit them. People with clear visions are most likely to become the company’s asset and pride and bound to be one of the future leaders.
13. How do you see yourself five years from now?
A vision is a picture or idea you have in your mind of yourself while staying in the company that you want to achieve which can happen for the next five years. Mention some realistic goals you want to accomplish but make sure that it is achievable but not too low. Never say “I’m sorry but I haven’t thought of it yet”. This simply concludes that you’re not prepared to take a responsibility since you lack of goals. Inject in your goal that the company will truly benefit if your goals will be accomplished.
This question was asked to me recently in my current work and I answered this with “I can see myself being one of the catalysts of improvement and change in the corporate structure as well as the operations of the company. I really like changing things around to make the work easier.”
14. How long would you expect to work with us?
Keep in mind that saying a specific time frame on how long you’ll be staying in the company can have a negative feedback on you. The best answer to this question is by not answering it directly. Specifics are not good. Believe me. You can just say a vague reply like “Honestly, I can never tell. I would like to stay in your company for as long as I’m happy with my work. As of this moment, I’m looking for a company where I can stay for a long period of time where I can learn and improve my skills.” or something like “As long as we both feel that I’m still doing a good job”. If your Interviewer insists that you give a specific number of years, (In my opinion and most of the time I use this line) I say Five (5) Years. Even if it’s a lie, five years is not bad for the company and quite long enough. Just be careful on how you deliver this line. Show sincerity and honesty in your eyes when you answer this question especially when you’re telling a big lie.
15. Do you have any questions?
Most of the time, this question is thrown out by the interview after your job interview. It’s usually the signal that your job interview is about to be wrapped up. But before you stand up from you seat, make the last impressions.
Always have some questions prepared. Ask a couple of good questions. The question should not be answerable by a Yes and a No. If you fire out your question, make sure that this is not a “common sense answered question” and an “obvious answer if your just listening” kind of question. When the interviewer answers your question, pay attention to the answer and ask a follow up question.
Asking questions demonstrates that you, as an applicant is very interested in job position they are offering. Remember that companies/employers love proactive employees which you must establish during the interview.
After that, you can now go for the next job interview! Good luck and happy job hunting!