Do you know that first five minutes of any interview are very crucial in elevating your chances of shortlisting or selection? Usually, you are expected to answer the most common interview questions with ease. Common interview questions like “Tell me about yourself”, “What are your great strengths”, “Why should we hire you”, “Do you have anything to ask”, etc. are repeated in most of the interviews but still they are the preeminent choices of hiring managers.
Why? The reason is simple. Recruiters want to see how well you can paraphrase your responses to these common interview questions with a differentiator. It is also easy for hiring managers to pass on with any candidate if they get a canned response.
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Having a beforehand interview preparation could avoid you from putting on the spot during an interview. But you do not have to mug up answers. Rather, you have to do thorough research on the hiring company, job profile and sometimes even about the hiring manager, in case you have that information from before.
So, let’s discuss 10 most common interview questions and the best possible way to crack it with success.
1. Tell me about yourself
This is the most basic interview question which you may face instantly after you greet your interviewer. But believe me, this is the first and the only place where you can set the right pitch for your interview.
Do not overdo or underdo while answering this question. You are not expected to ramble your whole life and work experience in one go. Remember, they have your CV in front of them. Stick to the major highlights of your qualification and career. Show them how you are an ideal fit for the current job profile.
You can also let them know about your interests outside work profile. Avoid two lines answers since it could bore your hiring manager. For example, do not recite the exact lines from the ‘Career Objective’ section of your resume.
2. What are your strengths?
One phrase to tackle this interview question – Keep your response around the target job profile. You are not expected to showcase your strength in basketball dribbling skills if you are giving an interview for Accountant job profile.
Also, claims like hardworking, fast learner, team player, etc. won’t ring a bell in the ears of the hiring manager. Nobody would claim less than that, and moreover, all these adjectives are baseless.
A good way of exhibiting your strengths could be done in the context of the job requirements. For example, if you are in a job interview for an accountant post then you could tell that you are good with numbers, you have proficiency in spreadsheets, you are a good organiser, you can include last minute requests, etc.
It does not mean that you brag around something which you are not. Be honest. Usually, interviewers are more experienced and trained to conduct such type of interviews. After all, you do not want to lose a golden opportunity by speaking a lousy lie.
3. What are your weaknesses?
Another typical interview question which a recruiter will ask you is about your weaknesses. But wait, do not show your negative cards. Your hiring manager is interested to know your self-awareness and also your eagerness to improvise on things where you lag.
Refrain from overly praising yourself such as ‘I am workaholic’. Rather, you can blend in a balance between positives and negatives of your work life. For example, often I take up too many things in my hand, thereby leaving little time for myself. Or it could be as simple as – I cannot say no to people, and sometimes I end up unnecessarily working hard on my deadlines.
In short, articulate your answers in a way to pose your positive aspects.
4. Why do you want to change your job or Why are you leaving your company or Why do you want to work here?
A word of caution – Do not ever disparage your former company or boss. You never know if your hiring manager’s most treasured company could be your company or your boss could have a good personal or professional relationship with your hiring manager. You can only run your imagination.
The best way to deal with this interview question would be to explain the multitudes of possibilities in the current job profile which could sky rocket your career path. You can even talk how you felt stagnant concerning growth with your previous job profile.
All these answers require you to have a complete outlook of the target job profile. Your thorough research about the targeted company and job profile will make recruiters think that you are an enthusiastic and a progressive candidate.
5. Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
There are two motives with these type of interview questions. First, the interviewer wants to know your future aspirations, and secondly, they wonder if you will stick with the organisation on a long-term basis.
Your answer should be aligned with the company goals. That’s why prior research about the company is a must. For example, if you currently work as a lead developer and have aspirations to become a project manager, then do mention it. Or you even mention some target position in the management cadre in the company. There cannot be a better answer if you can quantify your goals.
Avoid sharing your higher studies goals or even personal goals such as starting a family.
6. Give an instance where you dealt with a difficult and challenging situation
Your hiring manager wants to know if you can handle stress or challenges. Or they want to know how you have dealt previously with testing times. It is important to be ready with one or two examples from your past experiences. There could be endless possibilities with answers, but you are the best judge to quote the relevant incident from your past work experiences.
At the end of your answer, your quoted example should portray your abilities like rational attitude, adaptability, agility, enthusiasm, calmness, etc. For example, if you have faced a situation where you had to name your team members during layoffs, then mention how you rationally tackled this situation where everyone was a desired team player.
Another example could be a situation where you had to adapt to some new role quickly to fill in the shoes of a vacant yet important position. Avoid quoting situations where you were uncertain and indecisive.
7. What are your salary expectations?
If you have reached up to this interview question, then it does not mean that you are selected. So, do not be complacent and overly price yourself. Most of the time you are shortlisted for the interview round and may get the final offer in due course of time.
It means that hiring manager will select the candidates based on competency, interview process, experience and salary expectation. So, it is important to know what you’re asking for when it comes to salary expectations.
Before you go for the interview round, I would suggest you research the current market salary trend on various portals such as www.salary.com, www.glassdoor.com, www.payscale.com, etc. Here, you can apply a filter to search such as work profile, experience, locations, etc. and come up with the lowest, mid and the highest range.
Although there is no fixed percentage of salary growth that you can ask in the interview. But based on salary trend, current package, role and nature of work, you can come up with the reasonable salary expectation.
Sometimes, if your current package is below average than market trend, then there is no harm in asking a higher percentage hike. Most time good companies have the fair salary policy, but it makes a lot of sense if a candidate knows his/her value.
8. Why should we hire you?
This is the time where you have to put yourself in sales person shoes and sell yourself. Your interviewers want you to provide them with enough reasons to consider you as the best fit for the vacant position.
As I mentioned earlier, by researching well in advance can make you aware of the job profile and the company. Take advantage of that data and match your skills to create an impact with your answer. Uniqueness is the key here.
Remember, there could be other job seekers who may even exceed your skills. So, be creative with your sales pitch. Also, keep your response crisp and brief. Be ready to adapt if your interviewer provides you with some suggestions.
9. Are you willing to change your profile if required?
You should not be rigid in your responses when questions like this one thrown at you. Rather, you should go in thoughtful discussion with your interviewer about the possible job profile changes.
Moreover, you can provide them with an answer where you show that you are ready to adapt to new role and responsibility if that is in favour of the organisation. Many times, your hiring manager wants to check your flexibility and attitude towards possible organisational challenges.
10. Do you want to ask anything?
Now this one of those interview questions where you cannot afford to lose the opportunity of showing your dire interest in the job role or the organisation itself. Although, this interview question comes at the very end but carries the same value as any other interview questions.
By asking a relevant and curious question, you can pose yourself as an engaged person who has been listening to the interviewer all along the interview process.
I would not suggest you ask questions like ‘Am I selected’ or ‘How well I did in the interview’. The worst part could be not asking any question at all.
Sometimes, a deep-rooted question may prolong your interaction with the interview panel. And who knows if your extra timed cross dialogue may swing your chances of selection from NO to YES.
Job seekers prepare on technical front but most of the time they undermine the value non-technical interview questions. However, apart from preparing interview questions, you should also focus on other aspects of cracking job interview such as body language, knowledge, etc.
Remember, your proactiveness and creativity with the most common interview questions may help you ace the interview.
Do you know any other interview questions which you would like to discuss? Feel free to send your interview questions in the comment section below.